Page:A Dynamical Theory of the Electromagnetic Field.pdf/8

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as those of Weber, which expresses the number of electrostatic units of electricity which are contained in one electromagnetic unit.

This velocity is so nearly that of light, that it seems we have strong reason to conclude that light itself (including radiant heat, and other radiations if any) is an electromagnetic disturbance in the form of waves propagated through the electromagnetic field according to electromagnetic laws. If so, the agreement between the elasticity of the medium as calculated from the rapid alternations of luminous vibrations, and as found by the slow process of electrical experiments, shows how perfect and regular the elastic properties of the medium must be when not encumbered with any matter denser than air. If the same character of the elasticity is retained in dense transparent bodies, it appears that the square of the index of refraction is equal to the product of the specific dielectric capacity and the specific magnetic capacity. Conducting media are shown to absorb such radiations rapidly, and therefore to be generally opaque.

The conception of the propagation of transverse magnetic disturbances to the exclusion of normal ones is distinctly set forth by Professor Faraday[1] in his "Thoughts on Ray Vibrations." The electromagnetic theory of light, as proposed by him, is the same in substances as that which I have begun to develop in this paper, except that in 1846 there were no data to calculate the velocity of propagation.

(21) The general equations are then applied to the calculation of the coefficients of mutual induction of two circular currents and the coefficient of self-induction in a coil. The want of uniformity of the current in the different parts of the section of a wire at the commencement of the current is investigated, I believe for the first time, and the consequent correction of the coefficient of self-induction is found.

These results are applied to the calculation of the self-induction of the coil used in the experiments of the Committee of the British Association on Standards of Electric Resistance, and the value compared with that deduced from the experiments.


Electromagnetic Momentum of a Current

(22) We may begin by considering the state of the field in the neighbourhood of an electric current. We know that the magnetic forces are excited in the field, their direction and magnitude depending according to known laws upon the form of the conductor carrying the current. When the strength of the current is increased, all the magnetic effects are increased in the same proportion. Now, if the magnetic state of the field depends on motions of the medium, a certain force must be exerted in order to increase or diminish these motions, and when the motions are excited they continue, so that the effect of the connection between the current and the electromagnetic field surrounding it, is to endow the current with a kind of momentum, just as the connection between the driving-point of a machine and a fly-wheel endows the driving-point with an additional

  1. Philosophical Magazine, May 1846, or Experimental Researches, iii, p. 447