|Subject: RE: Fw: Translation
of Maxwell's Equations from Quarternions
Date: Thu, 4 Dec 2003 12:28:39 -0600
Thanks for the very fine and succinct reply. Well-said and right on! A simple check of Maxwell's 1865 paper answers that immediately, much less the short but sharp "debate" --- mostly involving the journal Nature, and never involving more than 30 scientists -- in the 1890s which just tossed out the quaternions and adopted the vector EM advocated by Heaviside, Gibbs, et al. -- after Maxwell was already dead.
After publication of the first edition of his Treatise, Maxwell of course also caught strong pressure from his own publisher to get rid of the quaternions (which few persons understood). Maxwell thus rewrote and simplified about 80% of his own 1873 Treatise before he died of stomach cancer in 1879. The second edition of that treatise was later published with that 80% revision done by Maxwell himself under strong pressure, and with a guest editor. But the 1865 Maxwell paper shows the real Maxwell theory, with 20 equations in 20 unknowns (they are explicitly listed in the paper). The equations taught today in university as "Maxwell's equations" are actually Heaviside's equations, with a further truncation via the symmetrical regauging performed by Lorentz.