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Chapter 3:
Electrodynamics and Plasma
The theory of electrodynamic phenomena is presented in textbooks in very different ways. Most of the books still use the historical method from the time before 1864 when James Clerk Maxwell introduced his equations. His work arrived at a closed field of knowledge and made such revolutionary predictions as the existence of electromagnetic waves and the fundamental meaning of the speed of light. The old-fashioned books are not wrong but they avoid the very easy overview Maxwell achieved. The pre-Maxwellian presentation starts with the electrostatics from the Coulomb force, then goes to magnetostatics, then to the chapter of slowly changing magnetic fields, and then to a new and separate chapter on the electromagnetic waves. This is not wrong, but there is a better way with some basic knowledge of electric charges, condensers, electric currents, and so on, to explain the central meaning and properties of Maxwell’s equations. This improved method uses knowledge of vector algebra and vector calculus and derives from there the properties of electromagnetic waves together with the equations of electrostatics, magnetostatics, etc., as special cases of Maxwell’s equations.
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