Here H A Lorentz found an escape which showed at the same time the way to an

Here h a lorentz found an escape which showed at the

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Here H. A. Lorentz found an escape which showed, at the same time, the way to an electrodynamic theory of bodies in motion, a theory which was more or less free of arbitrary assumption. His theory was built on the following funda- mental hypothesis: Everywhere (including the interior of ponderable bodies) the seat of the field is the empty space. The participation of matter in electromagnetic phenomena has its origin only in the fact that the elementary particles of matter carry unalterable electric charges, and, on this account are subject on the one hand to the actions of ponderomotive forces and on the other hand possess the property of generating a field. The ele- mentary particles obey Newton's law of motion for the ma- terial point. This is the basis on which H. A. Lorentz obtained his synthesis of Newton's mechanics and Maxwell's field theory. The weakness of this theory lies in the fact that it tried to determine the phenomena by a combination of partial differ- ential equations (Maxwell's field equations for empty space) and total differential equations (equations of motion of
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March, I936.] PHYSICS AND REALITY. 365 points), which procedure was obviously unnatural. The unsatisfactory part of the theory showed up externally by the necessity of assuming finite dimensions for the particles in order to prevent the electromagnetic field existing at their surfaces from becoming infinitely great. The theory failed moreover to give any explanation concerning the tremendous forces which hold the electric charges on the individual particles. H. A. Lorentz accepted these weaknesses of his theory, which were well known to him, in order to explain the phenomena correctly at least as regards their general lines. Furthermore, there was one consideration which reached beyond the frame of Lorentz's theory. In the environment of an electrically charged body there is a magnetic field which furnishes an (apparent) contribution to its inertia. Should it not be possible to explain the total inertia of the particles electromagnetically? It is clear that this problem could be worked out satisfactorily only if the particles could be inter- preted as regular solutions of the electromagnetic partial differential equations. The Maxwell equations in their original form do not, however, allow such a description of particles, because their corresponding solutions contain a singularity. Theoretical physicists have tried for a long time, therefore, to reach the goal by a modification of Maxwell's equations. These attempts have, however, not been crowned with success. Thus it happened that the goal of erecting a pure electromagnetic field theory of matter remained un- attained for the time being, although in principle no objection could be raised against the possibility of reaching such a goal.
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