books > Fields and Circuits
In this book I've attempted an innovation in the order of topics for freshman E&M, the goal being to follow the logical sequence while also providing plenty of opportunities for relating abstract ideas to hands-on experience. The typical sequence starts by slogging through Coulomb's law, the electric field, and Gauss's law, none of which are well suited to practical exploration in the laboratory. In this book, each of the first 5 chapters is short and includes a laboratory exercise that can be completed in about an hour and a half. The approach I've taken is to introduce the electric and magnetic field on an equal footing (which is in fact the way the subject was developed historically). As empirically motivated postulates, we take some primitive ideas about relativity along with the expressions for the energy and momentum density of the fields.
Another goal is to introduce the laws of physics in their natural, local form, i.e., Maxwell's equations in differential rather than integral form, without getting bogged down in an extensive development of the toolbox of vector calculus that would be more appropriate in an honors text like Purcell. Much of the necessary apparatus of div, grad, and curl is developed first in visual or qualitative form.
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