The Apotheosis of Maxwell's Equations
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Draw lines from an electric charge and call them the electric force.
The lines comprise an electric field and the charge is their sink or source.
The field lines stream out in bundles of space-filling jets and swirls,
described in the vector calculus through divergences and curls.
Lines of a different color, of magnetic force, consist
of closed loops only; magnetic charge does not exist.
A changing magnetic force generates a curly electric field
and a curly magnetic field is a changing electric force's yield.
Magnetic lines loop 'round an electric current, so now we have to inquire,
What happens when a current oscillates in a length of copper wire?
The current oscillates in the wire, electrons sloshing to and fro,
generating a twisty, shuddering field in a smooth yet turbulent flow.
And the energy that we put into the wire, how strangely it behaves!
It disappears into that field and re-emerges in electromagnetic waves.
How swiftly the electric-and-magnetic field propagates through space!
It moves from one place to another at light's own rapid pace.
"We can scarcely avoid the inference," Maxwell said and knew that he was right,
that certain of those electromagnetic waves comprise what we call light.
"It's a wave," scientists said, "so it must have a medium just as sound has air.
Space must be full of light-carrying fluid, however subtle and rare."
They sought the luminiferous aether; they experimented to utter tedium.
They didn't find it: they couldn't, of course, for light is its own medium.
Whoever conceived the structure of light did so with remarkable felicity;
for electricity supports magnetism and magnetism supports electricity.
The fields support each other at only one fixed speed of travel.
The concept of absolute space and time that fact begins to unravel.
Light flies past everyone at the same determinate speed
and thereby leads us deeper into an axiomatic-deductive creed.
We see all motion as relative, to which it can attest,
for everyone their frame of reference marks their own state of rest.
The laws of physics are the same for all, so when you measure some sensation,
you must translate those measurements for others through the Lorentz Transformation.
And from that theory of Relativity we infer, though it seems like a distraction,
the basis of Lagrangian dynamics, the principle of least action.
But from that simple principle a stream of equations flows.
Driven by reasoned imagination, that algebraic stream grows.
The laws of thermodynamics and of the quantum theory, too,
and those of General Relativity to our reasoning stand true.
A wave of syllogisms propagates across conceptual space
and reveals the foundations of Reality with quiet aetherial grace.
Mathematical logic supports the results of simple Reason's art.
We see the interconnected laws of physics arrayed upon a chart.
At the center we find Maxwell's Equations, two divergences and a pair of curls,
when our mathematical description of Reality majestically unfurls.
It's an aurora of grace glowing upon a species that has sinned.
Think of God's own flag, fluttering in a non-existent aether wind.
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