By Edmund T. Whittaker
In 1910 I released a piece lower than the name A background of the Theories of Aether and electrical energy, from the age of Descartes to the shut of the 19th century. whilst the unique version was once exhausted, I felt that any new factor may still describe the origins of relativity and quantum-theory, and their improvement considering 1900. My possibilities have been even though now not adequate to let me to organize a correct and fully-documented account of this very inventive interval, and that i used to be pressured to put the plan apart. Retirement from my professorial chair has made it attainable for me to absorb this undertaking back ; it is going to occupy volumes, of which this, the 1st, offers with the classical theories. the quantity of 1910 has been to a substantial volume rewritten, with the incorporation of a lot extra fabric ; and within the moment quantity, the tale may be persevered to the current time.
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Additional resources for A history of theories of ether and electricity. The classical theories
One of them was this; if I had harmonic oscillators interacting with a delay in time, I could work out what the normal modes were and guess that the quantum theory of the normal modes was the same as for simple oscillators and kind of work my way back in terms of the original variables. 1 succeeded in doing that, but I hoped then to generalize to other than a harmonic oscillator, but I learned to my regret something, which many people have learned. The harmonic oscillator is too simple; very often you can work out what it should do in quantum theory without getting much of a clue as to how to generalize your results to other systems.
However, that didn’t cause very much trouble. It just meant developing a new idea. Instead of wave functions we could talk about this; that if a source of a certain kind emits a particle, and a detector is there to receive it, we can give the amplitude that the source will emit and the detector receive. We do this without specifying the exact instant that the source emits or the exact instant that any detector receives, without trying to specify the state of anything at any particular time in between, but by just finding the amplitude for the complete experiment.
Feynman to Wheeler, May 4, 1951). H. , The Theory of Action-at-a-Distance i n Relativistic Particle Dynamics. New York, 1972, pp. viii-ix. 31nterview of Feynman by Charles Weiner, June 27, 1966, p. 39. 34 how the motion of one charge affects the motion of another. This can be done by writing the relativistic expression for the principle of least action, which determines the equations of motion of the charges (Fokker’s action principle). ” Paper  is included in this section because it is a further step in Feynman’s plan to modify classical electrodynamics as a forerunner to attacking the problems of QED.