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Jun24-07, 03:55 AM
P: 400

I'm seeing that many authors like Griffiths and Halliday/Resnick (I've not seen Jackson and Landau/Lif****z) are deriving the differential form of Gauss's law from the integral form (which is easily proven) by using the divergence theorem to convert both sides to volume integrals and then claiming that the integrands must be equal as the integrals are equal over all volumes.

But this argument is flawed. I can change the value of any one integrand over any set of measure zero (such as a countable number of planes) without disturbing the equality of the integrals. The integrands will no more be equal, but the integrals will still be equal, over all volumes.

The derivation by directly calculating the divergence from Coulomb's law also seems dubious. It hinges on writing the derivative of a function that is clearly not continuous, let alone smooth, using Dirac functions (which are of course not functions at all).

How can the differential form be derived rigorously from Coulomb's law/integral form?

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