Fields of Force

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Fields of Force: The Development of a world view from Faraday to Einstein (1974) is a book by William Berkson, published by John Wiley & Sons. It is an extension of his doctoral thesis, which was supervised by Karl Popper and examined by A.I. Sabra. Berkson credits the book with an influence from Joseph Agassi.

Summary[edit]

Fields of Force has a preface, an introduction, ten chapters, a historiographical appendix on field theory, and name and subject indexes. The introduction and the ten chapters all consist of 6 or more sections.

Berkson on Field Theory[edit]

The book reconstructs theoretical frameworks originally used in building up the concept of a field. It shows that the field of Faraday's electricity and the field of Einstein's relativity are distinct; although both make different assumptions about physical reality, Berkson suggests that the assumptions of either conception of the field still remain as plausible today as when first conceived. These separate field theories share at least one significant and testable difference in comparison with Newtonian physics: whereas Newton's action-at-a-distance occurs instantaneously, the field theories predict a propagation delay. Berkson explains that Faraday's prediction of a physically measurable propagation delay (finite velocity) from his own conception of a physical field permeating space is one important difference separating this idea from that of Newton's (infinite velocity).

All these field theories (Eintstein's, Faraday's, and Maxwell's) remain inconsistent with quantum mechanics. For they assume nature to be continuous, while quantum theory assumes it to be discrete.

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