On the Possibility of an Electromagnetic Foundation of Mechanics.
by W. Wien.
(From the proceedings of the Société hollandaise des sciences à Harlem. Anniversary volume for H. A. Lorentz, December 11, 1900.)
H. A. Lorentz has recently tried to explain gravitation by electrostatic attractions between the elements of bodies consisting of ions. For that purpose, he makes the assumption that the attractions between positive and negative electricity outweighs the repulsion between electricities of same sign. I was animated by that to publish considerations (made by me already some time ago) on the same subject, and where I even go beyond Lorentz's standpoint.
It is without doubt one of the most important tasks of theoretical physics, to connect with each other the, at the beginning, completely isolated areas of mechanical and electromagnetic phenomena, and to derive the differential equations applying to any of them from a common foundation. Maxwell and Thomson and subsequently Boltzmann and Hertz, have taken the, at the beginning, surely natural way to chose mechanics as the foundation and to derive Maxwell's equations from it. Numerous analogies existing between electrodynamic and hydrodynamic as well as elastic processes, seemed to repeatedly allude to this way. Hertz's mechanics appears to be devised in its entire structure, not only to include mechanical, but also electromagnetic phenomena. That a mechanical derivation of Maxwell's electrodynamics is possible, is known to be shown by Maxwell himself.
- H. A. Lorentz, Koninkl. Akad. v. Wetensch. te Amsterdam, March 31, 1900.