Tombe, Frederick David
November 28, 2021
aether, electron-positron sea, centrifugal force, double helix
The historical linkage between optics and electromagnetism can be traced back to the year 1855, when Wilhelm Eduard Weber and Rudolf Kohlrausch, by discharging a Leyden Jar (a capacitor), demonstrated that the ratio of the electrostatic and electrodynamic units of charge is equal to c√2, where c is the directly measured speed of light. Although not initially aware of the connection to the speed of light, Weber interpreted c√2 as a kind of mutual escape velocity for two elements of electricity in relative motion, such as would enable the induced magnetic force to overcome the mutual electrostatic force. A few years later, James Clerk Maxwell converted this ratio from electrodynamic units to electromagnetic units, hence exposing the speed of light directly. On connecting Weber’s ratio to the dielectric constant in an all-pervading elastic solid, Maxwell concluded that light consists in the transverse undulations of the same medium that is the cause of electric and magnetic phenomena. The differing perspectives of Weber and Maxwell can be reconciled by linking the speed of light to the circumferential speed of the electric particles surrounding the tiny molecular vortices that Maxwell believed to be the constituent units of the luminiferous medium.