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Are the Electromagnetic Phenomena Amenable to a Purely Mechanical Treatment?

edited June 2014 in General Science
I would like to set the stage for this discussion with a quote from a lucid work by a lucid author (click the attached image to enlarge it to a readable size).

The author is Henri Poincaré - a French mathematician, theoretical physicist, engineer, and a philosopher of science. He is often described as the last universalist since he excelled in all fields of the natural science as it existed during his lifetime.

The book is titled "Maxwell's Theory and Wireless Telegraphy" (Part II of the book is written by Frederick Vreeland) and it is available online:


  • edited June 2014
    Poincare analysed in a time when computational machines were rudimentary. The aesthetics of those times and the widespread philosophy was also different. Again I remark on the foundational views of the churches and clerics at that time. Much was still censored by the ecclesiatical authorities in order to maintain a world view with God at the Helm.

    Science was new and exciting and the view that man could control nature by it was heady wine that scientsts were scolded not to drink! No Man would dare to play God in public , whatever their private ambitions.

    The goal of penetrating Nature, if it was not Kantian, was certainly a widely adopted scientific principle as was various notions of "The Truth" which derived from much philosophical and theosophical debate. The clerics talked god the philosophers talked reason, but all was of god , Human reason being implanted by god and so capable of understanding gods handiworks.

    Occams razor is another widely held aesthetic and practical position devised by a cleric wishing to promote understanding of God's Natural world.

    There is no escaping the undeniable religious background against which science measured itself and indeed was measured.

    The wars changed all that. Not only was the fabric of societies torn to shreds, but the tapestries of lies, misconceptions and myths that formed the teachings and authorities of the church. Many retuned after the wars as nonbelievers. They were offered technology as the saviour and they based their philosophies on this remarkable performance.
    The Mechanical philosophy has been around for thousands of years. Not until the nuclear bomb exploded did it ever seriously challenge the religious political industrial and military elite of most countries. After the bomb there was a mad scramble to possess one or more of the intellectual elite capable of replicating this process. Religious authority was undermined and with it all other belief systems became "mumbo jumbo". Science then adopted the mantle of rationality formerly worn by religion.

    While Poincarre says no, today's theoretical scientists say yes, and one day we will show you how!
This discussion has been closed.