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Weber electrodynamics

  1. Jun 9, 2007 #1
    [Note: my first post attempt gave me an error message, so I think it didn't go through as I don't see it showing up in the forum; apologies if this ends up duplicate and in that event please delete one copy.]

    The site I found this on is pretty crackpot, but I'm interested in debunking this particular article:

    According to a more reliable source, http://math.ucr.edu/home/baez/physics/Relativity/SpeedOfLight/c.html "That continued until the 1870s, when Helmholtz discredited Weber's force law on the grounds of energy conservation, and Maxwell's more complete theory of propagating waves prevailed."

    However, from the first link:
    "The immediate topic is Helmholtz’s objection, that Weber’s Electrical Law could lead to the possibility of infinite work arising from a finite amount of work. Weber shows that for Helmholtz’s fears to be realized, electrical particles would have to move at enormous relative velocities, exceeding the constant c. He thus arrives at a concept of a limiting velocity, quite similar to that found 35 years later in the Special Theory of Relativity, yet arrived at by an entirely different process than that which leads Einstein to this assumption."
    Can someone comment on this?

    Even more audaciously, near the end he mentions another "accomplishment of Weber, the refutation of Clausius’ thermodynamics and the Helmholtz Energy Principle.[16]"
    Well, I see that the Smithsonian Libraries has the reference [16], but in the original German, and unlike some of the other Weber works, I can find neither a translation nor online version.

    Thanks in advance for anyone that can clear up my confusions with this.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 9, 2007
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 9, 2007 #2
    What the... why was this moved from the Scepticism and debunking forum where I originally posted it? Looking at the vast majority of other posts in this General forum, they're not about physics at all. So I must protest at this seemingly meaningless move!
  4. Jun 9, 2007 #3

    Ivan Seeking

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    If you read the posting guidelines in S&D, you will see that it is for potentially unexplained phenomenon only.

    This is more a general discussion subject than anything.
  5. Jun 10, 2007 #4

    Chris Hillman

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    Yeah, it's cranky, and with a political agenda to boot

    Hi, Prune, I agree that this is, or should be, a thread debunking incorrect assertions at a particular website, so I would also have assumed that Scepticism and Debunking was the proper subforum, but that's probably a question for the Feedback subforum! :rolleyes:

    Anway, to the point, sort of kind of:

    The site you mentioned seems to be run by one Laurence Hecht, who is named as "Editor in Chief" of "21st Century Science & Technology" magazine. This website appears to be associated with the Lyndon LaRouche movement, as do a handful of other nominally physics-related sites:
    It is rather obviously cranky. A typical clue:
    is an editorial signed by Hecht which opens
    Strong stuff indeed!

    In addition to attempting to resurrect discredited work by Ritz and Weber attacking Maxwell's theory (some anti-relativity nuts recognize that to "exorcise" relativity from physics, at the very least you would need to "exorcise" Maxwell's theory of EM, so they try to do just that), and supporting cranky notions that gravitation is an electromagnetic effect, etc., the site advocates a weird "nuclear model" of one Robert J. Moon. But the site is hostile to the Unification Church, aka "the Moonies":
    Evidently there is nothing one personality cult hates so much as another personality cult :rolleyes:

    I spotted one article in this magazine which looked like an attempt to revive Kepler's notion of the "harmony of the spheres". That probably sounds incredible, but it is in fact not implausible at a site like this. Certainly I know of at least one other crank with a "Bode's Law" fixation. Another crank has declared his opposition to the Copernican system, another to Galilean kinematics, still another to the Round Earth theory (no, it seems he wasn't joking).

    As far as the specifics of debunking the claims you cite go, I don't think I can offer anything more authoritative than the sci.physics FAQ, but since I raised the issue of connections between 21stcenturysciencetech.com and Lyndon LaRouche, I should perhaps state that although John Baez and I have both contributed to the FAQ :smile: we constitute three distinct entities.
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2007
  6. Jun 11, 2007 #5
    Of course, despite the hosting site being cranky (and I noticed the association with LaRouche, as I found this site linked from another LaRouche site) and that fact having some weight when I'm unqualified to evaluate specific claims directly, Weber himself certainly has not been regarded as a crackpot by any reference I've found. So I really want to get to the bottom of this, despite the case almost certainly being that Weber had errors and/or the article is misrepresenting his claims.

    Where else can I look for help with this?

    [Edit:] I had posted this question at a chemistry forum, and someone pointed out the following paper:
    J. J. Caluzi and A. K. T. Assis. "A Critical Analysis of Helmholtz's Argument against Weber's Electrodynamics." Foundations of Physics, Vol. 27, No. 10, 1997. http://www.ifi.unicamp.br/~assis/Found-Phys-V27-p1445-1452(1997).pdf

    I'm not sure if their defense of Weber holds water as I'm not a physicist. If anyone here is familiar with this field perhaps they can comment. In any case, that addresses only the first question I was having, that of whether Helmholtz validly discounted Weber's electrodynamic theory, and this paper argues he did not. But the more interesting claim regarding thermodynamics from above remains and I've not found any reference discussing it.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 11, 2007
  7. Jun 11, 2007 #6

    Chris Hillman

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    I think I've already said all I have to say

    Prune, nobody called Weber a crackpot. There's a huge difference between proposing a rival theory in Maxwell's time and promoting a scientifically discredited theory in our time.

    I deplore attempts to hijack science for political goals, regardless of how "laudable" or "deplorable" I or anyone else might consider those goals. I feel that PF might be one place where puzzled students or science teachers might ask questions about specific sites, but I don't want to see PF drawn into essentially political conflicts under the pretext that some pseudophysics might be tangentially involved. Just so you know.
  8. Jun 11, 2007 #7
    I simply don't care about the political side, and I don't know why you keep bringing it up. I didn't come here to discuss politics. You're quoting the part of my post that was not a question, and replying to it when no reply was necessary, and thus trying to turn this into a political discussion. My question in that post was asking for comments on the Assis paper. Unless you think Foundations is a fringe journal, which you're free to say.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 11, 2007
  9. Nov 22, 2008 #8
  10. Nov 22, 2008 #9
    LaRouchies are to be terminated on sight. They came into my friends' QM class with a sign that said "F = MA is Bull****" or something like that and saying "Are you going to believe this old man?"

    They are idiots because they likely DROVE to school, and constantly annoy people with their CELL PHONES. To explain both of those things is to utilize a huge chunk of physics right there.
  11. Nov 22, 2008 #10
    Dear WP,
    What in heavens name are LaRouchies... with cell phones? Do they take those with them? Am I one of them? You mean Newton with "this old man"?

    Three questions you have given me!

    Good Night.
  12. Nov 23, 2008 #11
    prune, i think if he knew the answer, he would have told you.
  13. Nov 23, 2008 #12
    Who is he?
    It is not appropriate to speak of somebody in the third form If HE is present.
    Secondly what kind of mystical speach is used here?
  14. Nov 23, 2008 #13
    Electron Soup
  15. Nov 23, 2008 #14
    Followers of Lynden LaRouch. They came into my friends' QM class with a sign that said Newton's laws weren't true.

    My counter-point to their argument of "Newton's laws don't work". Why do they think satellites work, then? It's not God keeping them afloat in space. And cell phones need satellites.

  16. Nov 23, 2008 #15
    now you're just being silly. an electron soup will never do, in fact, i can tell you that it is absolutely repulsive.
  17. Nov 23, 2008 #16

    Vanadium 50

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    I don't like them either, but I wouldn't advocate murdering them "on sight".
  18. Nov 23, 2008 #17
    In old TV's there is electron soup...

    No I had been reading Weber for about one and a half hour and then your message came on my screen (Led-based...). I wanted to say things about the style in which he worked, like:
    I always thought it was Faraday alone as the experimenter who connected: Volta, Ampere, Coulomb, etc and that Maxwell was the one who put those things in mathematical form. I was familiar with Gauss *. I did not know that his assistent was in this context perhaps a Faraday and a Maxwell at the same time...

    Such carefully experimenting with combinations of direction of currents, open mind to what are the results, putting results in interesting numbers. Integrity...

    * Gauss book of (I translate the title here freely) what if the planet orbits were threads with a mass density proportional to the time they reside there...
    I read this book and calculated the gravity center of the ellipses...
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