Talk:Tests of electromagnetism

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Merge proposal[edit]

I propose to merge this article into Weber electrodynamics (update: see below). Anything that is a precise general test of modern mainstream electrodynamic theory is already discussed better in the article Precision tests of QED. That includes the "position dependent tests" section. The other two sections are very specific tests geared towards proving or disproving Weber electrodynamics, and not likely to be of more widespread interest, so I propose to put them at Weber electrodynamics.

The idea of having an article about "Tests of classical electromagnetism" is a fundamentally bad idea, because there are tests of classical electromagnetism every day and many of them fail. All correct predictions of classical electromagnetism are in fact a prediction of QED and should be discussed at Precision tests of QED. Many other predictions of classical electromagnetism have been experimentally disproven, see [1]. --Steve (talk) 14:18, 1 May 2012 (UTC)

While there are clearly quantum corrections to classical electromagnetism, there is merit to studying how well the classical theories work in the classical regime. Clearly the theories break down at the quantum level, but these experiments are probing the theory classically. The experiments discussed in the article were all conducted after QED was discovered yet are still testing the classical theory. To say this is a fundamentally bad idea is analogous to saying that an article on modified Newtonian dynamics is a fundamentally bad idea just because we know that general relativity is more applicable in certain scenarios. While I do not claim I wrote a complete overview of the topic, there is certainly potential for this article to expand (and have less emphasis on Weber electrodynamics). (talk) 17:35, 1 May 2012 (UTC)lazcisco
Let's say you test an aspect of Maxwell's equations and find that it does or doesn't work. The first question you immediately ask is: Does QED say it should work? If yes, then your test is a confirmation or disproof of QED. If no, then the obvious thing to immediately do is to compare the results with QED predictions and again, the test is a confirmation or disproof of QED. There is no test of classical electromagnetism that cannot (and I would say should not) be thought of as a test of QED.
There is nothing wrong with having a section of Precision tests of QED called "Tests Probing the Classical Limit" discussing Coulomb's law etc. You'll see that precision tests of Coulomb's law are already mentioned in Precision tests of QED, and there is nothing wrong with expanding it if you can find more material along those lines. (Although, again, I would say that most of the specific tests mentioned in this article right now are so specific to testing Weber electromagnetism that they do not need to be discussed at all in articles about mainstream electromagnetism theories.)
Maybe someday the Precision tests of QED will have such an immensely-long discussion of classical-limit tests that it can be spun out into its own article.
Modified Newtonian Dynamics is a good analogy: MOND is almost universally described as an alternative theory to general relativity, not an alternative theory to Newton's law. Careful checks of galaxy rotation curves related to MOND would fit well into the Tests of general relativity article. --Steve (talk) 18:34, 1 May 2012 (UTC)
So it seems like you're saying this should be merged with precision tests of QED, I find that reasonable. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:47, 1 May 2012 (UTC)
Yes, now that I think about it, that should be the main merge proposal. I just changed it. (However, again, the tests that are specifically about Weber electrodynamics should be discussed at Weber electrodynamics.) --Steve (talk) 20:12, 1 May 2012 (UTC)