How does influence travel from one thing to another? In Newton’s mechanics of particles and forces, influences travel instantaneously across arbitrarily far distances. Newton himself felt this to be incorrect, but he did not suggest a solution to this problem of “action at a distance.” To solve this problem, we need a richer ontology: The world is made not only of particles, but also of fields. As in-depth examples of the field concept, we study the theory and applications of the electric field and the magnetic field, including Maxwell’s explanation of light as an electromagnetic wave. The surprising resolution of the dichotomy of particle vs. field will be the wave-particle duality of quantum theory.
Corequisite: Physics II Lab