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A Survey of Theories of Units and Dimensions in Nineteenth-Century Physics

  • Salvo D’Agostino
Part of the Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science book series (BSPS, volume 213)

Abstract

Metrological theories and theories of dimensions are tightly connected with the nineteenth century history of electrodynamics. Their significance is better understood when these theories are situated in an historical perspective.

Keywords

Transitional Principle Modern Notation Dimensional Relation Electrostatic System Articulated Position 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 1.
    Fourier [1822].Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Fourier [1822] Art. 161.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Maxwell [1954] Vol. I, Art.42.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Kelvin [1981] 104, quoted by O’Rahilly [1965] Vol. 2, 697.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Clifford [1878] 49, quoted by O’Rahilly [1965] Vol. 2, 685. O’ Rahilly’s opinion on dimensional quantities in physics is unambiguously expressed: “The mystification sets in when we begin to misinterpret these numbers as complex qualitative happenings miraculously susceptible to arithmetical operations such as raising to the forth power. It is precisely the failure to recognise the symbols of physics as ordinary numbers, which has led electricians into such a quagmire of futile and meaningless methaphysics” (O’Rahilly [1965] vol. 2). See also.Crowe [1967].Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Clausius [1982].Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Clausius [1982] 536.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Clausius [1982] 543, 544.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Planck [1932], Theory of Electricity and Magnetism, vol. III.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    M. Loria, “Giovanni Giorgi”, in: Gillispie [1972] vol. 5, 407.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    G. Giorgi, “Unità (sistemi di)” in: Enciclopedia Italiana [1937] vol. 34, 714–718, 716.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Sommerfeld [1935] (the passage was translated into English by the present author).Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Sommerfeld [1964].Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Salvo D’Agostino
    • 1
  1. 1.Università “La Sapienza”RomaItaly

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