4 October 2002
LORENTZ, Hendrik Antoon. La théorie électromagnétique de Maxwell et son application aux corps mouvants. Offprint from: Archives néerlandaises des Sciences exactes et naturelles 25. Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1892.
8o. Original printed wrapper (rebacked, upper wrapper laid down with corners repaired, lacks lower wrapper). Provenance: P. Zeeman (signature on upper cover).
FIRST EDITION, with imprint pasted to upper cover, of Lorentz's book-length paper on the relationship of matter to electricity. This was published in a journal rather than as a separate monograph as erroneously stated in Printing in the Mind of Man 378a. In applying Maxwell's electromagnetic theories to moving bodies Lorentz made the fundamentally new assumption that the behavior of light and matter could be understood in terms of charged particles. Maxwell (1865) had argued that radiation was produced by the oscillation of electric charges, and in 1887 Hertz had shown this to be true for radio waves, which he formed by causing electric charges to oscillate. But if light was an electromagnetic radiation after the fashion of radio waves, where were the electric charges that did the oscillating?
By 1890 it seemed quite likely that electric current was made up of charged particles, and Lorentz thought it quite possible that atoms of matter might also consist of charged particles. He hypothesized that visible light was produced by the oscillation of charged particles within the atom; if this was so, then placing a light in a strong magnetic field ought to affect the nature of the oscillations-and therefore the wavelength-of the light emitted. In 1896 Lorentz's hypothesis was demonstrated experimentally by his pupil Pieter Zeeman, who shared the Nobel Prize with Lorentz in 1902. Thus the historic value of this association copy is very great. Weber, Pioneers of Science, pp. 12-14. Magill, ed., The Nobel Prize Winners: Physics, pp. 35-42. PMM 378a.
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