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The Atomic Science
Textbooks Don’t Teach
22 The Significance of the 1845 Gauss-Weber Correspondence

35 Experimental Apparatus and Instrumentation
41 The Text of the Gauss-Weber 1845 Correspondence

The Significance of the
1845 Gauss-Weber
Correspondence
by Laurence Hecht

The 1830’s experiments of Carl Friedrich Gauss and Wilhelm Weber to test Ampère’s
electrodynamic theory, led to the conception of the electron and atomic nucleus,
more than 50 years before their empirical confirmation.

A
letter of 19 March 1845 from Carl Friedrich Gauss to of our treatment here. We focus rather on the more crucial
his younger collaborator, Wilhelm Weber, ranks as one underlying point: the method of Ampère, Gauss, and Weber;
of the most singular interventions of all time by an indi- that is, the actual scientific method, which alone leads to fun-
vidual in changing the course of history. Modern atomic sci- damental discovery. The 1845 correspondence offers a pre-
ence, physics, and chemistry, and everything in the modern cious inside view into the process.
world that depends upon them, would not have existed with- First, the essential background:
out it. It is, thus, one of the clearest proofs of the existence of In 1820, Hans Christian Oersted first demonstrated the effect
the consumer fraud, which passes for university science edu- of an electrical current on a magnet (Figure 1). Biot, Savart,
cation today, that the issues discussed in the letter are scarcely
known to any but a few specialists today, and that not even
one among these shows any adequate understanding of the
fundamentals involved.
The point at issue in the cited correspondence, is the exis-
tence of a special form of scientific concept, known to Plato as
the Idea, which had been introduced into electrodynamics by
André-Marie Ampère some 20 years earlier. No other scientist
in the world at the time recognized the significance of this as-
pect of Ampère’s work. Gauss, in the 1845 letter, points to pre-
cisely this, and successfully provokes a reorientation of We-
ber’s thinking. As a result, Weber develops a generalization of
Ampère’s law that leads, by no later than 1870, to the theoreti-
cal recognition of the existence of the charged atomic nucleus
and oppositely charged orbiting electrons, decades before any
empirical identification of the phenomena could be made. By Figure 1
that year, Weber had also derived the precise formula (e2/m c2) THE OERSTED EXPERIMENT
for the atomic measurement later known as the classical elec - Hans Christian Oersted first definitively demonstrated a
tron radius, and identified the nuclear binding force, a phe- relationship between electricity and magnetism. He
nomenon for which there was no empirical evidence until the showed that a magnetic compass needle, placed near a
20th century. current-carrying wire, will turn in the direction of the
The fact that these discoveries of Weber are virtually un- wire.
known today, is itself a scandal, although not the main point

22 Fall 1 9 9 6 21st CENTURY

the same as that devised by Gauss in 1832 for the precise observation of angular deflection in connection with his deter- mination of the absolute intensity of the Earth’s magnetic force. by passing a current through a helically coiled THE AMPERE SOLENOID wire. conducting wire coiled around a cylinder.This telescope and meter stick were built by the firm Utzschneider und Fraunhofer of Munich. encouraged by Laplace. attached to a rotatable magnet. At the solenoid coil mimicked the tiny circular orbits which time. in prin- ciple. the large-scale circular motion of the electricity in the cent conducting wires. When the solenoid is attached to a mental laws. recognizing that current (Galvanic) electricity represented a completely new phenomenon. Hypothesizing that magnetism itself may be the result of electrical currents surrounding the molecules of matter. Ampère hypothesized that the true cause of magnet- developed north and south magnetic poles. ism is the motion of resistance-less electrical currents net (Figure 2). Weber’s 1841 version of the apparatus could produce an angular precision of about 18 seconds of arc. he constructed the world’s first electromagnet. and magnetism he conceived to be present in a magnet.) and others among the leading establishment physicists in France. His first experiments established that two parallel con- ducting wires attract or repel. in tiny orbits around the molecules of matter. (See Figure 1. the ends of the cylinder become like the north the interaction between two hypothetical. His results were sensational. It is. static electricity. the first it. the laws of gravitation. in adja. which he i c s—Ampère next set himself the task of determining its funda. the configuration. projects the image of whatever part of the meter stick it faces. The scale numbers are thus mirror-reversed and inverted for reading through the telescope sight. page 37 for details of the Spiegel und Fernrohr apparatus. had all been found to be dependent on the inverse square of 21st CENTURY Fall 1996 23 . Figure 2 strated that.3. he set out first to determine if two electrical conductors affected each other in the same way that a single electric wire affects a magnet. A plane mirror. probably in 1880. which Ampère first named a solenoid. He next demon. named a solenoid. Ampère. depending on whether their cur- rents flow in similar or opposing directions. undertook empirical investiga- tions to determine the measurable effect of the conducting wire on a magnet. within a few weeks’ time. which he called current elements. just like a bar mag. very small portions and south poles of a bar magnet. To prove Having thus discovered. a empirical laws of a new science—he named it electrodynam . into the telescope tube. He thus proposed to find a formula expressing battery. saw in Oersted’s demonstration the possibility of gaining fundamental new knowledge of magnetism and the atomic constituency of matter. Ampère believed that of electrical current.

vertical columns are placed a small distance apart on a laboratory table. but so controversial that many the philosophic outlook known as empiricism. laws of physics would not allow it—and yet it existed. And if the idea is of a ements showed a dependence not only on the distance. not tions. In this case. and thus subjected marize how Ampère develops it. and does so even when the pattern of ments) would behave accordingly. if any. relying only on elemen- it. the wire. is its value? Two current elements cannot be isolated from the above all. although well others did. tween the two columns. But when the through them in the same direction. Between them. that the current elements will attract or repel de- tized steel bar. straight conducting wires are led up each of the ver- tical columns. An empiricist might measure and pending on whether the current in the wires of which they are analyze the effect on it of an electrical wire all day long. What step in the pursuit of the method of hypothesis. Nothing that one can see. the existence of a force dependent on angular re- The Method of Hypothesis lationship. charge.the distance of separation of their elements (mass. hear. But what about might cut it in half. From this Ampère could conclude that the movable rectangle still positions itself in the center be- any two parallel. tion. that is. assumes. When the current is turned on. is how Ampère proceeds in what is known as his Second Equi- librium Experiment: Two parallel. let us sum- physical phenomena could be measured. as Ampère did. was tary relationships of geometry. as now. defying the neat unifica. RS. The Essentials of Ampère’s Law The method of hypothesis employed by Ampère. was never treated seriously. or taste points (Figure 3). Although of Ampère’s hypothesis. ad and a′ d ′. many. on a tence of very small. a rectangular wire circuit is placed so that one side of the rectangle is parallel to the two columns and forms a common plane with them. as at a′′′d ′′′? Let the ratio of the force particles which constitute it. Ampère’s work. it makes no difference. feel. GH. This is the relation. the same vertical length. between the current elements in the longitudinal position to But to merely formulate such an idea. electrical currents circling the invisible straight line with the first. empiricism demanded that no derstanding of it is crucial for the rest of the story. 1. bends in the wire k l is changed. is only the first small those which are parallel be designated by the constant k . His letter of 19 March 1845 focusses on an aspect known to scientists. or melt it in an oven. can a person be motivated to pursue it. and repelled in the current is turned on. is made to snake arbitrarily back and forth in the the wires attracted each other when the current flowed plane perpendicular to the paper—Figure 4 (b). unless one could see. analysis. The method of hy- such a mere idea. to be placed in these posi- observable things. smell. Consider first. and never yet arrive at the simple a′′′d ′′′? How does the force between them differ when the sec- hypothesis that its magnetic property derives from the exis. or taste it. to the rigorous mathematical analysis expected of the pure sci- ences. This is a simple construct. parallel to rather. before he felt sure of its truth. as was Ampère’s concept of electrical ac- the directions of the current elements. For more than 20 years. The essential problem militating against its acceptance. Here idea. but on fundamental sort. being equally attracted or repelled by the two paral- Figure 3 lel wires in the vertical columns. to seriously believe in the existence of such non. Ampère analyzes the current flow the second element is in another position. parallel wires. hear. Thus it is not possible to carry out a direct empirical unlike the proper meaning of the word faith. As an un- view in science then. But what if To explain this paradox. ond current element is positioned longitudinally. such as that in the bent wire into its components in the vertical and hori- of a′′d ′′ or a′′′d ′′′? Direct observation could not decide zontal direction. for example. The side. known as the longitu - many criticized it. A prevailing have denied its existence for almost two centuries. It is necessary. dissolve it in the current elements in other positions. and through five years of experimental design and mathematical magnetic m o l e c u l e s). kl. But Ampère’s law of force for current el. two current elements. THE FORCE BETWEEN CURRENT ELEMENTS In the second case. such as a′ ′d ′ ′ o r acid. no one before Weber ever troubled to test dinal force. Both the bent and straight wires stretch along these more general cases. feel. grind it up into a powder. One must have a truly passionate belief. was disturbing to Gauss appreciated Ampère’s accomplishment as few. either up or down. The rectangle is free to swing on a vertical axis (Figure 4). Ampère knew from his first experiment with is what it appears to be. hence the sum of the vertical compo- nents of kl is the same as bc. Only by such a driving passion. running up one of the Early experiments with two parallel wires showed that columns. he a part flows in the same or opposite directions. it will tend to overthrow previously existing conceptions. a love of the pothesis is the only one available to answer the question. he finds that the rectangle remains positioned in the center between the two columns.1 tion of forces only recently established. As the first case shows that no 24 Fall 1 9 9 6 21st CENTURY . A current of the opposite direction is caused to flow through the parallel side of the rectangle G H. in the reality of measurement of the force between them. The The existence of such an anomaly. In the first case. that the so-called data of the senses are completely each other and perpendicular to the line connecting their mid- delusional. clearly challenged the Newtonian conception. ship of element ad to a′d ′ in the diagram. Take a simple object like a magne. that is an Idea. smell. and a current is made to flow through both of them in the same direction. small sections of the wire (current ele. circuits of which they are a part. of opposite case.

per. we can conclude that the arbi. p. . The wire passing up the vertical glass tube fgh is wound u′2 ). the snaking of the wire in RS causes a rotation of the wire In (c). that an infinitely small portion of electrical current arbitrary position p in Figure 4(b). Ampère is able to through the plane. while the wire in the slot of RS In (b) we see a schematic detail of the relationship of the snakes back and forth in the plane perpendicular to PQRS. and which is perpendicular to its direction. p. The shaded rectangle The purpose of the experiment is to determine whether depicts the plane RScb to which p is perpendicular. a disequilibrium of forces would necessarily arise The plane RScb has been rotated 90 degrees. the current element p exerts no force on any current helically to negate its magnetic effect in a lateral direction. u2) is always right. arbitrary point of the snaky wire kl. The angle formed by r at p (u1. the fact that G H does not move. Take any horizontal component. the vertical adduce the following theorem for the interaction of current components of kl may thus be ignored. 202] trarily chosen horizontal component must have no interaction with any current element along the length of GH. By virtue of midpoint. component is here pictured as the arrow. . elements: duces to an examination of its horizontal components. [Ampère 1826. causing G H to move. Thus the problem re. The circuit is arranged so that current that the current element p now appears vertical. experiment shows that regardless of the other angle (u′1. The horizontal from the arbitrary bends in the wire. f (b) (a) Figure 4 AMPERE’S SECOND EQUILIBRIUM EXPERIMENT Ampère’s most important law of interaction of current ele- ments can be deduced from his Second Equilibrium (c) Experiment. passing vertically From this experimentally deduced fact. element in the plane RScb. the rectangle RScb has been rotated 90 degrees so rectangle CDGH. If it had any Figure 4(c) helps us to see how the generalization is made. The entire plane RScb are connected by the lines r to the midpoint of apparatus is a single circuit. The other two arrows represent arbitrary 21st CENTURY Fall 1996 25 . straight wire runs up PQ. and leaves through the mercury cup at n. p. for example the one at the . interaction. The mid- flows up the two fixed conductors in PQ and RS and down points of the two arbitrary current elements depicted in the the side of the movable rectangle denoted GH. two fixed conductors and the side GH of the movable rec- The wire rectangle CDGH also conducts a current and is tangle: p is the horizontal component of current flow at an free to rotate about the axis MI. Consider its relationship current situated in a plane which passes through its to any current element in the movable wire GH. which is. The filled trough v. exerts no action on another infinitely small portion of pendicular to the shaded plane RScb. Current enters at the mercury. The copperplate (a) of the apparatus is from Ampère’s 1826 Memoir. The two wooden posts PQ. motion arises from two parallel vertical wires. RS The vertical columns de and mn are glass tubes for the are slotted on the sides which mutually face each other. by definition. A return circuit.

i ′. while in the mooted simplified configura- tion. tween the two current elements. the genius of sented as ds. If the very small lengths of the current elements are repre- tribute to the measured effect. One sees then. indeed. because the two perpendicular 26 Fall 1 9 9 6 21st CENTURY .Ampère’s electrical apparatus is on display at a small museum in his childhood home at Poleymieux. perhaps hundreds. longitudinal components will be represented by ds cosu and and their relative position. This plane. n being a constant to be of the two wires. greater generality. I assumed that it was in inverse ratio to fect. all the other elements of the two wires will also con. r. erts no action on any current element anywhere in the plane. ds′. the reader should know that Ampère carried out many dozens. ture. connecting their midpoints. for other. and also that between ds′ s i nu′ and d s c o su is zero. Take two arbitrary current elements in a how the force between them changes as the current element plane. we see that the force between ds s i nu and ds′ Since the current elements under consideration lie in a c o su′. the generalization is made that p e x. and the ever with the lines r connecting them to the midpoint of p. The parallel he will define the force as a function of the current element components will be represented by ds s i nu and ds′ s i nu′. where ad and a′d ′ second equilibrium experiment make it an easy matter to find are two parallel current elements. the intensities of the current of which they are part. and directly measuring the ef. and the angle function.” writes Ampère. 200] which concern us. the force is to be represented as ds′ cosu′. of all four equilibrium experiments. of other experiments before being able to reduce his presentation to deduction from the four equilibrium experiments presented in his final 1826 where f represents the unknown function of the angles be- Memoire on electrodynamics. The question he poses is the angle function f. a certain distance apart. u’ which they form with it—Figure 5(a). will be wish to measure. based on the assumptions so far. and u. then the late—although only by abstraction—precisely the effect we force between them. [Ampère 1826. the angles they form with the line connecting them. p. Return to Figure 3. n. The results of the nection with Figure 3. their intensities as i. experiment. u′ designate the Second Equilibrium Experiment. and resolve their directions into two perpen- is repositioned from a′d ′ to a′ ′ ′d ′ ′ ′. One might first imagine that we could establish the same led me to believe that the force which I was seeking to result by simply placing two wires perpendicular to each represent. ds and ds′. This is true. the length of the line. acted in some inverse ratio to distance. angles u. the exponent. The theorem deduced from the second experiment is the This leaves two unknowns to be determined: the value of key that allows Ampère to solve the problem posed in con. their relative position will be completely described by may appear confusing at first. The problem is that it is only the infinitesimal elements the nth power of this distance. The lengths. France. By the theorem derived from the second equilibrium acting along the line r. as pictured in Figure 5(b). current elements in GH. Ampère determines that dicular components. “Considera- Since the experiment shows that the current element p exerts tion of the diverse attractions and repulsions observed in na- no action on any of them. f. These may make any angles whatso. that it allows us to iso. precisely at the point of perpendicularity determined.

was preparing a treatise on actions (ds c o su · ds ′ s i nu ′ and ds ′ c o su ′ · ds sinu). Their joint researches on magnet- ism led to the first determination of an absolute measurement of the Earth’s magnetic force and a seminal paper by Gauss on the subject in 1832. (See accompanying article. The action of the two elements ds and ds′ therefore reduces and the second as to the two joint remaining actions.) Experiment allows the elimination of two of the inter. ing science. then the full expression for the Ampère force becomes: The determination of the values of the constants n and k. met Carl Friedrich Gauss. which produces: Eq. ds ′ sinu ′. It is easy to see that these two pairs of actions are be- tween components which are either parallel or longitudinal. namely the interaction be- tween ds s i nu and d s′ s i nu′. as the reader can see from Figure 5(c). 2. but may lie in planes whose angle with each other is represented by v. Wilhelm Weber. and between ds cosu and ds′ cosu′. If the two current elements are not restricted to a plane. which also form a common plane with the per. 21st CENTURY Fall 1996 27 . 35. he sent a copy to RScb. this is the general expression for the Ampère force un- der discussion in the 1845 correspondence between Gauss and Weber. surements the precision which Gauss had achieved for mag- The theorem deduced from the Second Equilibrium netism. taking the parallel force as unity. In 1833. It is only necessary to add these to obtain the total force between the two current elements. which allowed Ampère to derive the values n = 2 and k = 21/2. For simplicity’s sake. that end. Gauss had identified the In (a). The Gauss magnetometer was adapted into an instru- trary current elements ds and ds′ are pictured in (b). But the theorem deduced from the Second Equilibrium Experiment subsumes the planar case. for bringing to electrical mea- These are ds sin u. On 1 pendicular p. introduced to ease the reader’s burden. ment. February 1845. running from the university ob- DEDUCTION OF THE AMPERE FORCE LAW servatory to the physics laboratory. Weber. dscosu. then the leading astronomer and mathematician of Europe. and ds′ c o su ′. now at Leipzig. two parallel current elements ds. 1 With only one simplification. asking for his evaluation. Gauss on 18 January 1845.elements under consideration in Figure 4 are not. r e- quired two additional equilibrium experiments. the electrodynamometer. at a scien- tific conference in Berlin. the two constructed the world’s Figure 5 first electromagnetic telegraph. in general. ds ′ form the confirmation of Ampère’s law as one of the leading tasks fac- angles u. Gauss needed help to carry out the researches he planned in magnetism and electricity. u ′ with the line r joining their midpoints. a young physics graduate who had distinguished himself through original research into acoustics and water waves. and Weber began a long series of experiments to The horizontal and vertical components of two arbi. In 1845. in the same plane. Uncertain of his conclusions. and Alexander von Humboldt encouraged their cooperation. p. Weber sent a second letter explaining a change he had made in the Ampère formula. We- ber was awarded a professorship at Göttingen University and began work there in 1831. The first can be represented as remembering that k represents the ratio of the longitudinal to the parallel force. we derived the formula for the plane only. The Ampère Formula and the Correspondence In 1828. his results. which he wished to present to the Royal Society in In (c) are depicted current elements in the plane Göttingen.

and is on display at the Deutsches Museum in Munich. within the particles (magnetic molecules) of a magnetiz- able substance. an article by Hermann Grassmann in be a slight modification in my premise. came to be known as the bifilar coil. . . . is the longitudinal force. and had recently worked Over the previous 10 years. for Ampère. It is perhaps not irrelevant law with exactness. of the proposed modification of the law. Ampère suggested rather that the magnetic molecule is an electrical current loop. The Development of Weber’s Law of the journal’s editor. he would decidedly protest .I would think. and thus eliminated. seems completely It has been of great interest to me to learn from what untrustworthy. . and his decade of removal from work on the topic. Gauss be. the electrodynamometer. yet. was guided by other reasons than the ones from would have to be set = 0.elaborately developed the interdependence of his new mag- namic experiments of Ampère was designed by H. is inadmissible. consisted of aligning these microscopic current loops Deutsches Museum along the magnetic axis. you were kind enough to write. would authorize the adoption of an entirely different formula. occupied him for more than a decade. The coefficient Weber refers to is that identified just above which I first gave. whereby his entire theory would fall to pieces. . You must have misunderstood the reservations which. by means of what seems to me to that in the year 1845. Perhaps Grassmann’s consisted of a fixed and a rotatable helically wound electro- effort. Poggendorf. Ampère had This experimental apparatus for replicating the electrody . current elements. combined with his separation from Gauss. . 35. measured. I myself have expressed. immediate empirical experience which he cites at the beginning of his treatise. by means of the consideration that back on 31 March: the empirically derived definition of the coefficient of the second term. ror and telescope. that. by the same reasoning law. Magnetizing an iron bar was seen to consist of polarizing and aligning the magnetic molecules along a given axis of the bar. [I]n the present case. The second term.” as Gauss was to characterize the Ampère magnetic hy- pothesis in his 1832 study of magnetism. (See accompanying article. . Gauss writes. Weber completely accepted Gauss’s correction and wrote which I seek to justify. so long as it lacks a more definition of the coefficient he calls k in his fundamental precise quantitative determination. because it seemed somewhat simpler. which I have discarded. challenged the obtained the exact expression of Ampère’s law. for Ampère’s entire theory of the interchangeability of magnetism with galvanic currents depends absolutely on the correctness of [his formula] and is wholly lost. so long as this other formula were not reinforced by completely decisive experiments.suspended by two wires whose torsion could be accurately pothesis. were Ampère still living. as k. consisting of a mir- health. Pixii in netic hypothesis with his formula for the force between two 1824. Magnetization.) The rotatable one. Weber would thus have likely known in the experimental confirmation of Ampère’s law. propelled magnet. the reader must know that prior to Ampère. In his 70th year.” Weber was a friend 3.angle of rotation observed by means of a precision system de- gins with regrets over the loss of time caused by his poor veloped by Gauss for his magnetometer. . and that hence the derivation. k cosu cosu′. describing the exis- tence of such an effect as “improbable. the difference is a vital question. . I have easily the physics journal. The measur- advance of Grassmann’s contribution on the topic that had ing instrument he had developed. boreal and aus- tral. even if he himself were to admit the incompleteness of his experiments. to begin with. Weber into self-doubt about the reality of the Ampère hy. that Ampère. magnetism had been explained as a sep- aration (polarization) of two magnetic fluids. could be precisely determined. using the with no loss of acuity: system already developed by Gauss. To see clearly what Gauss is saying. . according to your second letter. I do not believe that Ampère. if another is chosen in its place. angle dependency of the Ampère force. and the referred to in opening this article. in the and hence that coefficient. The effect of the Earth’s magnetic force But. . In his 1826 treatise. p. because it does not reproduce Ampère’s which Weber proposes to drop. Weber had been engaged in with him in Berlin. A precisely Gauss’s rejoinder of 19 March is the singular intervention measured current was passed through the two coils. a “galvano-electric orbit. Hence the experimental 28 Fall 1 9 9 6 21st CENTURY . Poggendorf’s Annalen. because of the unreliability of the method.

) In any small segment of the formed to the calculated values within one-third of a scale wire. electrostatic law alone applied. Gustav Fechner. how to calculate the rotational moment exerted by a namic laws under a new. and that a simpler generaliza- tion. This ductors. discarding the longitudinal force. developed by his colleague. American Institute of Physics Collection of the Göttingen University I. the distance of separation. Weber forged ahead into new territory. (4) between 2e and + e′. (3) between 2e and 2e′ The task he set himself was to find a generalization of Am. how must the electrostatic law be modified 21st CENTURY Fall 1996 29 . all values which were determined in the Weber ap. If the ing wire in its vicinity. more general form. Scott Barr Collection. like particles (1 and 3). courtesy of Historical E. (1) between + e and + e′ ceipt of Gauss’s 19 March letter. a positive and a negative particle would be found speed- unit. described by Ampère’s longitudinal force (Figure 6). rents in fixed conductors. tionary and that the negative particle moves. the two attractions of opposite • the appearance of an electrical current in a closed circuit particles (2 and 4) would exactly equal the two repulsions of when there is a change in the intensity of current in a neigh. element by considering the flow of electricity as consisting of paratus. that is the situation when there is relative motion between it and a current-carry. fundamental law of elec- Ampère had already shown in his famous treatise (Ampère tricity would have to subsume the electrostatic and electrody- 1826). might suffice. The force was dependent on the current crucial value. Weber now considers the situation where one current ele- • the appearance of an electrical current in a closed circuit ment follows the other along the same line. rent elements involved four interactions among electrical parti- surement. (Today. Courtesy of the Museum of Electricity at Poleymieux Lithograph by Siegfried Bendixen. we know there will be an attrac- tion or repulsion between the current elements. Thus. there are the there had remained the possibility that the Ampère law was following four relationships: not correct in all its specificity. By treating the helically wound coils as a compound oppositely charged electrical particles moving through the of such current loops and integrating their effect. strength. in these cases. a modification achieved under a variety of experimental conditions. Beside it. But by the crucial hypothesis derived boring conductor. discovered by the American. Joseph Henry. are confined to their con- after Ampère had completed his work in electrodynamics. which Weber had already determined before 1845. five years Since the particles. père’s law that would encompass the phenomena of voltaic in- duction. A conception single circular current loop on a current element in any posi. depending on Ampère’s electrodynamic law applied only to moving cur. first suggested by Wilhelm Weber. If the current elements are labeled e and e′. or less than 6 seconds of arc. and the area enclosed by Fechner had extended the Ampère conception of the current the loop. con. cles. Physical Institute Emilio Segrè Visual Archives André-Marie Ampère (1775-1836) Carl Friedrich Gauss (1777-1855) Wilhelm Eduard Weber (1804-1891) data could be reduced to yield the exact rotational moment electrostatic force. ing past one another. able to calculate with precision the angular rotation that we assume that the positive electrical particle is virtually sta- should be imparted to the bifilar coil. with full confidence in the (2) between + e and 2e′ master’s judgment. from Ampère’s experiments. the interaction between two cur- Despite this complete agreement between theory and mea. the direction of current flow. stood the separate law of The question is. proved to be of tion in space. The existence of the phenomenon of induc- exerted between the two Ampère solenoids. tion suggested to Weber that a true. His measurements. After re. the forces between them are assumed to be trans- included the following effects: ferred to the motion of the conducting wires themselves. Weber was conductor with equal velocity in opposite directions.

fundamental law of electricity. one following the other. where the current elements Weber noted that like electrical particles move in the (positive and negative particles for Weber) are moving same direction in Case 1. for each case. depicted here by When the current elements are parallel. Now see. Since the the line connecting their midpoints (Figure 7). it is attraction. the relative Figure 6 WEBER’S DEVELOPMENT OF AMPERE’S LAW: LONGITUDINAL ELEMENTS To broaden Ampère’s approach to include the new phe- nomena of induction. negative particles have opposite motion. rent elements. result (attraction or repulsion depending on whether the cur- proaching or receding from one another—that is. In Case 1. The first thing we notice is that at the very instant when the current elements are directly opposite each other. and repulsion in Case 2. dr 2/dt 2. along the wire. the theorem of Weber applies both where the particles are ap. depicts two of these cur. Weber determined the velocity dependency acceleration. but that they had a relative of Ampère. in a straight line where the two elements move in opposite directions. ry describes attraction in Case 1. Ampère’s theory deduced repul. Their interaction will now be analyzed. Weber used the hypothesis of Gustav Fechner that a current consists of the opposite Figure 7 flow of positive and negative electrical particles. in Case 2. and in opposite directions in in the same direction. move in the same direction. two parallel current elements which form a right angle with locity of two particles can be designated as dr/dt. Ampère Weber saw that in the parallel case. the relative veloci- deduced attraction. the force between them is simply e e′/r 2. For Case 2. in Case 2. and r their dis. The same considerations must now be applied to the case of tance. where a is a constant whose value must be determined. In this WEBER’S DEVELOPMENT OF AMPERE’S LAW: view. the same relative sion. He thus expresses Figure 6. If e and The Parallel Case e′ are the charge of two stationary particles. that the particles in relative motion are those his theorem for the force between two electrical particles in of opposite charge (the like particles flow in the same direction longitudinal motion: and thus have no relative velocity). that is when they have a relative velocity. where the rents flow in the same or different directions). that it is the like particles that are in relative motion. In Case 1. Weber will use the square. where the positive particles and the motions of the particles produced opposite results. The electrostatic law is a simple inverse square law. From this. Case 1. In this case. where both elements The schematic. From these experimental deductions ty of the particles was zero. a single current element contains a positive and a PARALLEL ELEMENTS negative particle in opposite motion. Thus came the acceleration term in his of the law of force between electrical particles. the resultant force is repulsion. Weber adduces the theorem that the electrostatic force must be reduced when the electrical particles are in relative motion. In the longitudinal case. according to Fech- ner’s hypothesis. 30 Fall 1 9 9 6 21st CENTURY . as in the previous case. Case 2. was known to sign (direction) of the relative velocity is either positive or neg. The relative ve .in order to yield the longitudinal force as a result? Notice in ative. Ampère through his earliest experiments. Ampère’s theo- the contents of a single cylindrical section of the wire.

They are claiming that Weber’s law must violate the principle of conservation of energy. the electrostatic force must be increased by constant so far designated as a. Eq. ber returns once more to Ampère’s work. always seems infinitesimally small.395 3 the presence of a relative acceleration between particles. 3 Helmholtz has constructed a specific case where. . Eq. to be known as the Weber constant. their rel- ative velocity is zero. so that in general Eq. those which we now tween longitudinal elements. . current elements. and Maxwell in Britain. when as in galvanic currents. p. producing the finished 1846 form of his just deduced can have no bearing in explaining the resultant expression for the force between two electrical particles in mo- force. he claims. . Catalytic Forces and a Fundamental Length We jump now to 1870. By consideration of the four interrelationships existing among In a treatise which appeared in January 1871. 2(a) the former only remains significant. and thus the law the constant a by 4. their relative velocity becomes positive. where the net effect according compatibility with Ampère’s law. perimental path to that goal. Thus at the instant under consideration. His funda- mental law was from now on to be written: where b is also a constant to be determined. Weber divides oir under the series titled “Electrodynamic Determinations of 21st CENTURY Fall 1996 31 . compared with the electrostatic . the electrostatic forces completely cancel each other in virtue of the neutralization of the positive and To find the relationship between the coefficients a and b. 4 ing. They found that 4/a = 4. the particles in parallel current elements do not move along the same straight line. At the point of cross. 21]. The ratio of It shall shortly become clear that Weber was already grop- the coefficients in Equation 2(a) is nothing other than the ratio ing for a means to penetrate to the level of the forces among of the force between parallel current elements to the force be. The power of his subsequent Weber consequently sets: work resides largely in his determined working through of the theoretical implications of his earlier work. why the electrodynamic effect Hence. and this value. Equation 2 becomes: of electrical masses . Weber and Rudolf Kohlrausch carried out experi- of that noted for longitudinal current elements. we observe that it is the atomic physics that Weber was later to discover are already unlike particles that are in relative motion between the two implicit in the formulation stated in Equation 4. p. are said to tion: have a negative relative velocity. when the current ele. This is Weber’s fundamental law of electrical action as pre- ments are directly opposite each other. his sixth mem- the particles of each pair of current elements. and specifically to the point referenced in Gauss’s 19 March letter. Thus 1011 mm/sec. and. in Case 1 of Figure 7. In Case 2. Eq. electrical particles becomes: Tait. . unlike the previous case. Most of the features of to Ampère’s experiments is attraction. W e. where the force between current elements is repulsive. The Final Steps which are in relative motion. Thus the situation is the opposite In 1855. published jointly with Kohlrausch in 1856. they have a relative ac . namely the same relationship call atomic. 2 other at all” (Weber and Kohlrausch 1856. as their paths cross. rather ments which determined with fine precision the value of the than diminishing. sented in his famous 1846 memoir. Weber pointed out that the extremely small value of the coefficient 1/c2 makes it possible to grasp. His comment reveals that he could not see an ex- which Ampère had determined to have the absolute value 1/2.velocity of all the electrical particles is zero. as they now recede from each other. the relative velocity is changing from negative to positive. but no relative velocity. when Weber is under a sustained at- from which the general expression for the force between two tack by Helmholtz and Clausius in Germany and Thomson. 20). these tiny particles of electrical charge. That is. if they are not to act on each Eq. thenceforth designated c. §19). Weber hints at the result is that the direction his thought was to take in coming years. came must Weber add a term to the expression derived just above. their distance of separation is determined (Weber 1846. we observe that it is the like particles 4.2 Weber understood the which yields: constant c as “that relative velocity which electrical masses e and e′ have and must retain. 5 Now a more detailed consideration arises. Weber’s law will produce an infinite vis viva. negative electricity [Weber and Kohlrausch 1856. When the function of In a comment appended to the précis of the experiment. in which he also shows its celeration. A change in relative velocity is known as relative acceleration. namely. two particles approaching each other. application to the phenomenon of induction and its complete Now.

but which still must contain a and. the expression gives the mass (e. set up here to detect very weak magnetic forces. The that while the amount of charge on posi. another noteworthy result follows tion on them by other bodies. and ran from the Göttingen tive and negative electrical particles is Observatory to the Physics Building. “which contains as a factor the very force law to be. 2r f . e and e′. and a sec. on page 3 of the Sixth Memoir. was constructed in 1833. It is easily seen that when e and But when the distinction is made between the charge (e. their cal force is by no means so simple as we expect a fundamental relative acceleration. In the second place. Weber shows in the 4e2/ec2. their masses need not be equal. they repel only so long as tion. 6(b) and proton-electron mass ratio. they had been called at the time electrical masses. Lacking our current use of the term. basic principles of atomic physics. Weber next examines an underlying assumption in his fun- damental law of electrical action.” The first complexity is the catalytic forces ation that the relative acceleration must consist of two parts— just referenced. though opposite. they do not by any employs the term catalytic forces to describe them. 6(a) matical consequence of the expression for Weber’s funda- mental law just given above. and whatever is due to the ac. they attract when term. As We- ond part due to other causes. the world’s first. e′) of the electrical particles.Measure” (Weber 1871). after the means always repel each other.). which were not empirically determined un- til decades later.length. charge. 2-6) that the expression then of light. which the particles. and me the mass of the electron. that the expression for the force. He thus arrives for the first time. we have then in modern terms. the repulsion of like particles. between charge and mechanical Chris Lewis mass. First Weber notes that the positive and negative electrical particles. Recalling that the Weber constant is 2 3 the velocity Sixth Memoir (Weber 1871. “that the law of electri- upon each other. mathe- Eq. pp. on the contrary.telegraph. associated with reversal of the Coulomb force. equal. 212 ff. he was able to derive an expression for his fun- damental law which is independent of the acceleration term caused by their mutual action. purely through a theo- retical analysis of his fundamental electri- cal law. where he particles e and e′ are of the same kind. must reverse and become at- tractive. at the modern concepts of charge-to-mass ratio Eq.” Weber remarks. which denotes the acceleration due to other causes. expressing the former by e. and the Jonathan Tennenbaum observing the ultra-sensitive receiving apparatus of the latter by e (epsilon). by considering separately the mathematical term for the force of acceleration which each one of the particles exerts on the other one. In that loca.e′) and e′ represent two similar particles. the familiar expression 32 Fall 1 9 9 6 21st CENTURY . on the contrary. it appears in two respects to be par- that is to be determined. Namely. He then recognizes Gauss-Weber telegraph. mutually exert “From this it results. Weber draws the dis- tinction.” He makes this clear by the consider. In the opening pages of the memoir is found perhaps the most as- tounding of these discoveries. but also discovers. is dependent on a magnitude. are not masses in the mechanical sense. thus when dr 2/ dt 2 < c c + expression introduced by the chemist Berzelius. Weber’s de- termination of a minimal distance below which the Coulomb force. The second is the appearance of a unique one due to the mutual action of the two particles. He had already considered this from this expression for the force—namely. The second part would include ber describes that latter aspect of the discovery: whatever velocity the particles may have in directions other than the line r connecting them. f.ticularly complex. that is. The expression thus derived is This remarkable result is no more than a necessary. where c expresses the becomes: velocity of light. Weber not only offers a devastating reply to the criticisms. that when the aspect of the matter in the 1846 memoir (p. expressed as e and e′.

. Critics of Ampère and Weber A mpère’s revolutionary hypothesis that magnetism arises from electrical orbits surrounding the particles of mat- ter became the basis for the development of early atomic of Force requires that these forces should be in the line joining the particles and func - science by Gauss. they act. as everybody knows. Weber’s 1871 paper progresses in richness. understand his hypothesis. product of current and induc - able one. must represent a results—perhaps some sort of lower bounding value for the limiting velocity for the electrical particles. it is fundamental. this explanation any magnetic field—the vector seemed to me a highly improb . when divided by two. . a 21st CENTURY Fall 1996 33 . 1915) nal formula of electrodynam - of gross empiricism so frequently encountered in science James Clerk Maxwell ics. law of force between a pair of père’s hypothesis. Maxwell took the middle ground of allowing Am. Weber attempts to find the basis for the production of oscillations of the frequency of light. both by theo - of the bodies between which IEE Archives rists and practicians. 1854 Among the leading critics of Ampère and Weber’s work were Hermann Grassmann. that Ampère’s contribution be (1831-1879) ways using it? Do we ever use changed to what it was not. James C. and others. that Ampère’s reason. If so. Rather it is the inserted into the Weber expression. Maxwell. I do not in the least mean to rob Ampère of the credit When I submitted the expla . a most interesting approximation for These are some of the remarkable results produced by that the year 1870! singular intervention of Gauss in his letter of 19 March 1845. 1888 same line (as if attached by a rubber band) is possible. gives the classical elec. A First Course in Heaviside’s position is notable as an expression of the sort Physics (Boston: Ginn & Co.) Finally.of being the father of electrodynamics: I would only trans - nation offered by Ampère for fer the name of cardinal formula to another due to him. c. Weber points out. Grassmann attacked the less authority than that of the Ampère hypothesis as “improbable. which. in any case. it is not like his force A New Theory of between a pair of unclosed el - Electrodynamics. current elements is the cardi - Millikan and Gale. Weber.” but without giving a great Maxwell. If the forces in nature are to be reduced to forces Oliver Heaviside —Oliver Heaviside. about it. but that an oscillation along the concepts of our modern physics. the value 3. that his constant. . tion. the principle of the Conservation (1850-1925) in The Electrician. on no English engineer Oliver Heaviside. His suggestion. tonian mechanics. and the It has been stated. Thus did a scientific idea. either actually Hermann Grassmann making any ultimate forces in or virtually (through electro - (1809-1877) nature depend on the velocity motive force). (From this latter. and the determination that two like particles cannot led to the discovery of some of the most crucial among the have such orbital motion. 1845 ements. has been adopted by most i t ? Did Maxwell in his T r e a- modern textbooks. There is something real —Hermann Grassmann. But many could not tions of the distance only. but rejecting Weber’s development of it. tise? Surely there is some mis - take. acting between particles. mathematical development implied an overthrow of New. it is in There are also objections to continual use. is answered with the ob- proach. nor deal with the fact that its —James Clerk Maxwell.8310–13 cm. servation that Helmholtz assumes the possibility of the parti- tron radius of 2. On Faraday’s Lines of Force. which motion of an electron orbiting around a central nucleus are had appeared in the mind of Ampère by no later than 1823. strong force. and. the interaction of two infinitely expressing the mechanical small current-sections on one force on an element of a con - another to a more exacting ductor supporting current in analysis.06310–16 cm case. Helmholtz’s silly charge that the electrical particles will attain an infinite That is the distance below which two electrons may not ap. should we not be al - today. When the mass of the proton is cles also attaining infinite relative velocities. energy under Weber’s formulation. deduced. The laws of His recognition of the real existence of a mere idea.

cian’s trick. The value given above. Euler claims to re. p. Did we in any way ex. 1-20. the d e r i v a t i o n of the additional forces (which enter into the reciprocal action of electrical particles at rest. of a force acting (Paris: A. massy partickles” of Newton’s cosmology. Maxwell was a capable mathematical analyst and possessed a creative teach how we know it? (Some might even be so foolish as to gift for physical-geometrical insight. Johnson. the experimentally name of Weber is rarely heard. to falsely presume Am. 1871. or as aggerate when we used the term a consumer fraud to de. A partial English translation appears in R. the Weber constant. is the ratio of the mechanical to the electrody- ered is almost impossible to find in any modern textbook. Ampère turned his attention to these deeper implied is. pray tell. “Über die Elektricitäts- assumptions addressed a century earlier by Gottfried W. Vols. 1883). Jr. “Elektrodynamische Maasbestimmungen über ein allge- within the framework of Newtonian assumptions to demonstrate the ab. thinker of Lyndon H. How See also.1074 3 1011 mm/sec. They completely miss the point. His utter ignorance of matters of argue thusly. Maxwell stubbornly remarks on Gauss’s chal- clear strong force. increasingly took on Was it accidental or witting? We hope we have given the the character of ignorant prejudice.3 namely. Vol. Thus is reality stood on its head by a mathemati- cialist sources can scant mention of these facts be found—al. none of these remarkable accomplishments of the line of a mere mathematical construct. English translation by Susan P. if they are in relative But where. Hermann. herausgegeben von J. which took the form of a slavish adherence to the method of em- its results. Leibniz in his fa. meines Grundgesetz der elektrischen Wirkung. the electrodynamic. 99. Monadology. because Maxwell already did that. have Pergamon. Had Gauss seen a clear solution through such a mode of representation. “Memoire sur la théorie mathématique des phénomenes électrodynamiques uniquement déduite de l’expérience. and in his Kette fliesst.colorless. The actual law of electrical force he discov. he is currently a political pris - oner in the state of Virginia. pp. san P. The namic to the electromagnetic unit is as √2:1. Maxwell included. along the straight line conecting two elements. according Now we are unable to conceive of a propagation in time. Vol. English translation in Philosophical Maga - the root of the failure of Maxwell and all subsequent specialists to recog.M. to a blackboard trick.” Annalen der Physik und Chemie. The mathematical development of Ampère’s hypothesis. emboldened some interpreters. Weber first showed in 1846 that the ratio of the electrody- der Ampère’s name appears something quite different. 119-49 (“Elec- nize this essential aspect of Ampère’s contribution. ciple of the Conservation of Energy”). 4th Series. No. Ampère. A co. A Treatise on Electricity and Magnetism.).-phys. His theory of retarded potential proceeded from there. odorless. did the method of discovery go? Or is motion) from the action which is not instantaneous. that it would only be confusing to 3. is recognized in the standard histories. Euler of work from Ampère to Gauss to Weber. or textbooks can imagine (“as near as you please” in Augustin Cauchy’s more refined today. is Wissenschaften. by resorting in his Let - course of history. LaRouche. zine. Bernhard Riemann. version of the ruse). becoming a champion of Leibniz’s method Wilhelm Eduard Weber. they Without a doubt. the propagation of a condition of motion or stress in a medium al- scribe the university science education which commits such ready existing in space [T r e a t i s e . pp. . (Winter 1995-1996) pp. un. Immediately following the completion of his 1826 Memoir on Poggendorff.C. 155-200. 3. 283. passed on from generation to credulous generation of univer- sity science undergraduates. he himself. ters to a German Princess. there. value corresponded closely to Fizeau’s experimental determination of the cluded under the ingenious formulations arrived at by James velocity of light. Electrodynamiques. and Weber.The experiment actually determined the ratio of the mechanical measure name of Ampère arises. was the first to note that the taught that all of the laws of electrodynamics have been in.” in Wilhelm Webers surdity of sticking to the Newtonian assumptions of point mass and a sim. 1826. menge.R. derived ratio of the mechanical measure of current intensity to the electro- magnetic measure was 3. piricism. besondere über das Princip der Erhaltung der Energie. ways presented as isolated events. Here Riemann attempted the unsolved task of which Gauss had com- Clerk Maxwell and codified in his 1873 Treatise on Electricity mented in the 19 March 1845 letter: and Magnetism. Tricker. Kohlrausch. Werke (Berlin: Julius Springer. and tasteless substance. pp. Ampère is raising precisely the same points of criticism of Newtonian Wilhelm Eduard Weber and R. and certain uncritical refer. Gauss. glaring omissions? Has a fraud been committed. but on the con- that no longer of interest to students today? Is it that we trary (in a way comparable to light) propagates itself in time. never with coherence. the limiting value of the velocity of light lenge: come from? Not from Ampère. 36-47. know so much today. James Clerk Maxwell. never mentioned when the physics of the atom is taught? If the 2 . that is. One need not study Ampère and Weber. 1893) Vol. 25-214. it is in connection only with electricity of current intensity to the three other existing measures. 492]. Without referencing it explic. 1954) Unabridged Third Edition. itly. Vol. To defend the existence Yet. Johnson. 1965) pp. Classe der Koenigl. Wilhelm Eduard Memoir is rather a sort of Gödel’s proof for experimental physics: working Weber. References ________________________________________________________ André-Marie Ampère. as the glaring failure of Maxwell’s theory to even account for the existence of the electron ought Laurence Hecht is an associate editor of 21st Century. had it not been the case that at the point where I broke service of cleaning up any “errors” that might have been found off.” Abhandlungen The continuing hegemony within mathematical physics. his ever-present infinite series. Unpublished ply continuous. sues of his experimental work. who Today. “Riemann Refutes Euler. tromagnetic. prevented his ever understanding the deeper issues posed by Gauss above (note 2).) Yet not just the method is missing. welche bei galvanischen Strömen durch den Querschnitt der mous correspondence with Newton’s proxy Samuel Clarke. He also did us the long ago. to indicate. uniquement déduite de l’expérience 1. relating specifically to the Prin- answer such questions by experimental measurement. the nu. January 1872. There was nothing original in his idea reader sufficient leads that he may investigate and decide for of an ether as the transmitting medium of electromagnetic action. 1873. 1856. There was none. Unpublished English translation by Su- electrodynamics. ins- in science from that time until his death in 1836. 1846. either as the flight of a material substance through space. Gauss. Ampère’s 1826 and 2 (New York: Dover. what I considered to be the actual keystone was lacking . Lyndon H. change the fute Leibniz’s insistence on the existence of atomic structure within the “hard. “Elektrodynamische Maasbestimmungen. So too are method. a cover-up? Maxwell’s dismissal of what he did not understand. .A. LaRouche. Where did the classical electron radius. and the electrolytic. Early Electrodynamics: The First Law of Circulation (New York: ences to Newton found in the opening pages of his 1826 Memoir. And a very thorough job it was. I would have made my investigations public are told. would have developed it. Only when one delves into the remote corners of spe. X (Jan. except to today’s textbooks and authorities. the elec- and magnetism.” in N o t es _____________________________________________________________ A. 43. 1 père to be a Newtonian. students of physics and electrical engineering are observed the Weber-Kohlrausch experiment. 34 Fall 1 9 9 6 21st CENTURY . Therefore. S´achsischen Gesellschaft der present moment. 10-25. even to the der mathem. Where science must trodynamic Measurements—Sixth Memoir. linear-extended space-time. which we have just claims to prove the physical existence of a simply continuous space-time by successively subdividing a straight line into as many parts as the mind reviewed. of Leonhard Euler’s fraud respecting Leibniz’s work. namic measure.” 21st can it be that the names of Ampère. and Weber are Century Science & Technology.

under the in- magnetic strength of the first fluence of the Earth’s magnetic force. allowed for the precise determination of the angular deflection to a POISSON’S METHOD hitherto unknown degree of accuracy. An addition- al apparatus devised by Gauss. A sec- ond. ac- cording to whether like or unlike poles are turned toward 21st CENTURY Fall 1996 35 . represent changes in the intensity of the the number of oscillations in Earth’s magnetism. Thus. by making a second set of observa- gives the ratio (M/T) of the tions on the compass needle whose oscillations. or are a result of a natural weakening of the this configuration. tions observed is proportional to the product of the two. had already been ob- needle to the Earth’s mag. and the Earth sci. served. M. oscillating needle. The oscillations of the nee- dle marked 2 will be acceler . totally miscarried. nee- The problem in all the observations carried out prior to dle 1 tends to produce an angular deflection in the sec- Gauss’s work. Prior to Gauss’s work. or at different times in each other. conceived by Gauss. T. or magnetic moment. pointing to magnetic north). number of oscillations when Before Gauss. A more exact determination of the magnetic in- tensity at differing points on the Earth’s surface had long been Figure 1.Experimental Apparatus and Instrumentation 1. The number of oscilla- fixed. magnetic meridian (that is. The oscillations of the second needle would be either re- tarded or accelerated by the presence of the first needle.1 und Fernrohr (mirror and telescope). of the oscillating needle could not be separated from the ated by the presence of the strength of the Earth’s magnetism. Observations of both the horizontal and vertical (inclination and dip) intensity had been carried out sporadically over the previous century and brought to a high state of refinement by the travels of Alexander von Humboldt.1). Poisson in France had suggested a means of the first needle is removed. first needle in this con . to the needle’s magnetism. It was soon to play a crucial role as well in the theoreti. it is impossible to tell whether variations measured at site poles are turned toward different points on the Earth’s surface. where the oppo . which GAUSS’S METHOD would be useful in navigation. But all of these obser- vations contained an inherent weakness: that the magnetic strength of the needles used had to be considered equal and unchanging. while the Earth’s magnetism attempts to return the second needle into a line with the magnetic meridian.3). The Gauss Magnetometer Carl Friedrich Gauss’s 1832 determination of the absolute intensity of the Earth’s magnetic force was the crucial prerequi- site for Weber’s electrodynamic studies. known as the Spiegel Figure 1. rotatable or oscillating needle was then to be placed in the same line (Figure 1. or produced very approximate cal pursuit of electrodynamics and atomic theory. (See Figure 1. results. measurements of the intensity of the Earth’s magnetic force were carried out by observing the oscillations of compass nee- dles at varying points on the Earth’s surface. the intensity was assumed to be equal to the square of the number of oscillations. Poisson proposed to fix this needle in line with the netic strength. Based on the the- ory of the pendulum. figuration. The resulting angular deflection is proportional to the sought-for ratio M/T. A comparison of the same location. overcoming this obstacle. MT. surveying. was that the strength. Observations carried out by Poisson’s method either ences. In this configuration.2 desired for a better understanding of geomagnetism. ond.

which is observed through the porthole in the dark cylindrical casing above the rotatable magnet. the ratio M/T. However. Rather than counting the oscilla- one magnet upon another is only known exactly in tions of the second needle. The rotatable carrier is suspended by two silk threads which run up the vertical column to the highest point of the apparatus (44 cm). and therefore the greatest pre- (determined by the first set of observations) is divided cision of measurement is necessary to produce ade- by M/T. that is. apparatus capable of measuring these small effects with lem. Wilhelm Weber. under the sole influ. that Earth’s magnetic strength. young collaborator. A telescope and meter stick such as that pictured on page 23 would be aimed at the mirror. at far left and right. Gauss noted.3. according to methods pioneered by Charles Historical Collection of the Göttingen University I. In the background are a wooden housing to protect the apparatus from air currents and a copper one for damping the oscillations of the needle with electrical current.2). In the case of the magnetic force of the first needle to that of the Earth. Attached to the carrier is a plane mirror. The apparatus in the center is used to deter - mine the absolute intensity of the Earth’s magnetic force. hold weights used to determine the gravitational moment of the magnet. the separation between is. M/T (Figure 1. expressing aration distance of the two needles be rather large in relation the strength of the first needle to the magnetic strength of the to the length of the second one. in foreground. to carry out the second observation on second needle when in the presence of the first one. lies in the fact that the effect of the greatest precision. the result is T 2. 36 Fall 1 9 9 6 21st CENTURY . The boxes. where the separation is infinite. Physical Institute A transportable magnetometer built for Wilhelm Weber in 1839 by Meyerstein.3. With the assistance of his new. value representing the absolute intensity of the Earth’s Gauss Solves the Measurement Problem magnetic force. the square of the quate results.each other. Suspended in the center of the magnetometer housing is a rotatable carrier holding the cylindrical magnetized needle. Gauss conceived of a config- the ideal case. Behind it are two brass bars which can be attached to the magnetometer housing at either of the two flanges seen protruding to the left and right. is slid along this non-magnetic brass support until the proper distance is achieved. The bar magnet. By comparing the number of oscillations of the ideal case. in uration whereby the second needle was rotated (de- which case the force between two magnets varies as flected) through an angle proportional to the ratio of the the inverse cube of the distance. Gauss began to turn his attention to this mat- But efforts by physicists to carry out observations ter. Poisson—with any degree of accuracy. according to Poisson’s method either totally miscar. two compass needles of finite separation—as suggested by cillations when standing alone (that is. The second needle was suspended the compass needle and the Earth’s magnetic pole is from a silk thread. requires that the sep- ence of the Earth’s magnetic force). The prob. which plays the role of needle 2 in Figure 1. which plays the role of needle 1 in the schematic of Figure 1. are two bar magnets with cleaning brush and holder. the two designed and constructed an ried or produced very approximate results. whose torsion could be precisely de- sufficiently large as to provide values close to the termined. In 1831. In the first row. to its os. When the value of MT able effect is very small. This means that the observ- Earth. could be determined.

several decades earlier. also incorporated into the pic- tured 1839 device. reported in his pa- per “The Intensity of the Earth’s Magnetic Force Reduced to Absolute Measure. against which the angular rotation of the second needle by the first had to operate. perpendicular to its optical axis. by Dr. permits the very precise determina- tion of angular deflection. its optical axis in a line with the magnetic meridian. their torsion could be adjusted with the greatest precision. “Intensitas vis magneticae terrestris ad mensuram absolutam revocata.3 SPIEGEL UND FERNROHR APPARATUS The Spiegel und Fernrohr (mirror and telescope) appara- tus. English translation (unpublished) from the German. A telescope is placed about 2 meters distant. By varying the distance of separation of the two parallel silk threads supporting the rotatable com- pass needle. When the presence of needle 1 causes an angular deflection of the second nee- dle (pictured). A plane mirror is attached to the axis of the rotatable compass needle (2). page 36). The face of the mirror is oriented perpendicular to the magnetic axis. Fig- ure 1.or zero-point of the meter stick into the barrel of the telescope. was the development of the b i f i l a r (two-thread) suspension. or magnet (see photograph of 1839 device. In the rest position. Figure 1. Institute. Since the torsion provided a part of the restoring force. the mirror was attached at the rotational axis of a carrier holding the second compass nee- dle. each graduated marking on the meter stick represented about 18 seconds of arc. 21st CENTURY Fall 1996 37 . Kiel of Bonn.Augustin Coulomb in France. Physical Johnson. In the 1841 apparatus used by Weber. and time could serve as the basis for all physical measurement.3 schematically portrays one of the earliest versions of the apparatus. its exact determination was essen- tial for experimental accuracy. the Spiegel und Fer - nrohr (mirror and telescope). torical Collection of the Göttingen University I. devised by Gauss. An- other important breakthrough. was integrated into many types of precision measuring instruments well into this century.” read by Gauss at the Göttingen Gesellschaft der Wissenschaften on 15 December 1832. Chris Lewis able as: Die Intensität der Erdmagnetischen Kraft auf absolutes Maass The boxed portable magnetometer. on display in the His - zurückgeführt (Leipzig: Wilhelm Engelmann Verlag. length.”1 became the model for all rigorous investi- gation thereafter. 3-44. German translation from the orginal Latin. In later versions. N o t es _____________________________________________________________ 1. Gauss’s angle measurement apparatus. and to the viewer. and printed in Volume 8 of the treatises of this society. 1894). A graduated meter stick is affixed to the telescope. the mirror reflects the mid. or 1/200 of a degree. The study included the first introduction of the concept that the units of mass. by Susan P. Then. through an ingenious apparatus conceived by Gauss. the angle of deflection could be measured with a degree of precision hitherto unknown. when the axis of needle 2 is aligned with the magnetic meridian. the resulting rotation of the plane mirror causes it to reflect a more distant part of the meter stick into the telescope. avail. pp. Gauss’s 1831-1832 study of magnetism.

nor has anyone else published anything to date. The larger outer ring is the bifilar coil. During the experiment. is affixed to a wooden frame with tripod base. . and the other as south. Introduction] The essential problem Weber saw with Ampère’s apparatus was the possibility that the force of friction might be disguising subtle effects. . the first coil. This is the electrodynamometer. would require a completely dif- ferent experimental geometry. that instead of single wires interacting with each other. rather than attempting ex- periments whose purpose was to produce zero motion. on the state of electrical science since the 1826 publication of Ampère’s famous memoir on electro- dynamics. known as the electro- dynamometer. so called was suspended horizontally such that it could rotate around a because it is suspended from above by two wires. But the use of coils. and. but rather it results from dread of the great difficulty of the experiments. Thus.[Weber 1846. which The principal elements of Weber’s apparatus were two cylin. usually either perpendicular (Figure 2. a pair of multiply wound coils was used. which are very hard to carry out with present equipment. the arrangement of the Weber electrodynamometer ratus) through a telescope with meter stick attached. The other was placed horizontally in a fixed posi. We- ber intended to precisely measure the rotational force exerted by one coil on another. even the smallest currents flowing through the coils could produce measurable effects. from either the experimental or theoretical side. If this lack of motion were the result. then the entire set of deductions derived by Ampère would have to be re-evaluated. Physical Institute strength of this effect to that predicted by Ampère’s law. as can be seen from sured by observing the mirror (affixed to the suspension appa - Figure 2. This had the advantage that each successive winding would multiply the effect of the electrodynamic force between the two coils. even in small part. This was the purpose of the instrument. We know from Ampère’s earliest experiments. which also vertical axis. of fric- tional resistance. The Electrodynamometer and Weber’s Proof of Ampère’s Theory Commenting in 1846. .1) or longitudinal to the multiplier. In each of Ampère’s equilibrium experiments. the rectangular conductor CDGH in the second equilibrium experiment (Figure 4 in article text). And.1. it was necessary to devise an apparatus in which the electrodynamic forces were strengthened. . called solenoids by Ampère. Then. for example.2. Weber used to experimentally verify Ampère’s electrody - drical coils of wire. through further analysis. . by geometric analysis. it takes on the various positions on the laboratory table to determine its rota - properties of a bar magnet. The essential improvement over Ampère’s various appara- tuses was. Thus. such that friction would be only a negligible fraction of the force measured. deductions are made from the lack of motion of a movable conductor. The inner ring. constructed in 1841. the first model of which Weber constructed in 1834. relate the Historical Collection of Göttingen University I. carry current to it. rather than single lengths of wires. one end of the cylinder acting as tional effect on the bifilar coil. he would reduce these results to the effect of a single circular loop on another. . This neglect of electrodynamics since Ampère is not to be considered a consequence of attributing less importance to the fundamental phenomenon discovered by Ampère . To establish the validity of Ampère’s theory with more ex- actness. concerning further investigations. an electrical coil known as tion. the multiplier and frame are placed in that when current passes through a solenoid. The angle of rotation is mea - north pole. . 38 Fall 1 9 9 6 21st CENTURY . Wilhelm Weber wrote: Ampère did not continue these investigations. One cylinder namic theory. .

the rotatable bifilar coil is suspended by its two conducting wires. Figure 2. placed at right angles to the bifilar coil.) of Göttingen University demonstrates the sending apparatus of the 1833 electromagnetic telegraph of Gauss and Weber to Jonathan Tennenbaum. will also behave like a mag- net when electrified. just as in the wire. aligning itself with the magnetic meridian. the angle of rotation can be very precisely mea- sured. magnetometer. or longitudinal to the used the conducting wires themselves to suspend the coil. and its angle of ro- Thus. A mirror was affixed to the bifilar coil. The second Weber borrowed the use of the bifilar (two-thread) suspen. was sus. it will tend to be- have just like a magnetic compass needle. pended from above by its own two wire leads. as in the Gauss mag- + – netometer. at right angles. was placed in the sion from this earlier instrument. but instead of silk threads.1 BASIC CONFIGURATION OF ELECTRODYNAMOMETER In this topdown view of the Weber electrodynamometer. 21st CENTURY Fall 1996 39 . and will tend to rotate the bifilar coil out of the magnetic meridian. a hollow wooden cylinder wound with insulated copper tation observed with a telescope and meter stick. is quite analogous to that of the Gauss magnetometer. known as the multiplier. When current is passed through it. as depicted. Chris Lewis Professor G. Beuermann (r. which came to be known as the bifilar coil. cylindrical coil. first. But the multiplier. he same horizontal plane. In the background is displayed part of the historical collection of Weber’s ap - paratus. If a plane mirror is attached to the bifilar coil and observed through a tele- scope and measuring stick apparatus.

and about 20 feet distant from the bifilar This complete agreement between the values coil. and a proof of the truth of Ampère’s law [Weber 1846.3 In his mathematical theory of electrodynamics. a full flection of the bifilar coil and the current strength. B is a second multiplier coil connected to the main circuit. §8]. to take simultaneous readings of the de - vational error) is. The apparatus at B. this schematic diagram from Weber’s lar loops should be. derived from Am. Observers were required at both the possible amount contributed by unavoidable obser. Figure 2. observations were made with the multiplier positioned at varying. The dotted triangles indicate the premeasured positions on the laboratory table at which the multiplier will be placed during the experiment. and south of the bifilar coil (Figures 2. The multiplier and base can be extracted from the position depicted and moved to any de - sired position. north. k. The bifilar coil is the outer ring. acting at each measured position of the multi- plier and bifilar coil. In addition to the bifilar coil and multiplier. their relative angles. The current supply (a four-cell père’s controversial theory of electrodynamics. the strength of current flowing in them. third operator to manipulate the current supply. shown with the suspension apparatus leading up to the wire leads gg. Weber was now The telescope and meter stick for observing the rotation of able to compare the predicted values. A plane mirror. a. the area enclosed by each. Figure 2. and g. and G to less than 1/3 of a scale unit (about 6 seconds of arc). 2. By knowing the number of turns in each coil. b. represent- ing the torque. under such diverse conditions. After additional instrumentation was added to measure . west. closed position at E. C is a portable magnetometer whose deflections (mea - calculated according to Ampère’s formula and the sured by the telescope and meter stick at G) correspond to observed values (namely. C. of measures the current in the circuit and takes the place of a which Weber wrote in his First Memoir: modern ammeter. A table of experi- mentally determined values was then arrived at. the scopes F and G. or rotational moment. depicted in the mination of what the rotational moment of two such circu. pre- cisely measured distances to the east. to a set of battery) is depicted at D and a commutator for reversing the experimentally determined values. the multiplier coil is depicted in the unique position where it is inside the bifilar coil. the precise current flow through each coil. The difference amounted direction of current flow at A.2.3). and the verification of Ampère’s electrodynamic theory. exerted by the multi- plier on the bifilar coil at the different distances. the differences never exceed the current strength in B. Weber was then able to reduce these observed values to the mutual effect of a single pair of cir- cular loops. The multiplier coil is affixed to the wooden base which is mounted on the three feet. —Laurence Hecht 40 Fall 1 9 9 6 21st CENTURY . that the total effect could be considered as concentrated in the most central loop of each coil.2 BIFILAR COIL AND MULTIPLIER In this illustration from Weber’s First Mem - oir. the bifilar coil is shown at F. Ampère SCHEMATIC OF WEBER’S EXPERIMENT had developed a formula that provided a theoretical deter. dependent on their distance of separa. and by assum- ing from the symmetry of the windings. is at - tached to the suspension. First Memoir shows the other instrumentation required for tion.

. Text of the Gauss-Weber 1845 Correspondence EDITOR’S NOTE Weber to Gauss. which I would like to present to the Royal Society in Göt- letter from Gauss to Weber of 19 March appears in C a r l tingen. however. Hence I submit them to you with the request. pages 627-629. Johnson. The letters from Weber to Gauss. numbered 29 to 31. For some time now. Vol. The tise. or about whether it is worthy of being presented to the in brackets are added by the translator. . V. that you will be good enough to look at them at your convenience. All the letters ture a sound judgment. In background is Your devoted. 29. . I do not dare to ven- Friedrich Gauss. With heartfelt affection and respect. when your time permits. They were transcribed from the . Above: Commemorative medal honoring Carl Friedrich Leipzig. 1845. The words eyes. your benevolent decision. Werke. the footnotes are by Society. No. either about its correctness in your were translated into English by Susan P. Wilhelm Weber 21st CENTURY Fall 1996 41 . 18 January 1845 come from the Gauss manuscripts in the Manuscripts and Rare Books Division of the State and University Library of Highly honored Herr Hofrath:1 Lower Saxony. a facsimile of Weber’s 31 May 1845 letter to Gauss. issued in 1933. January 18 Gauss and Wilhelm Weber. now that I am finished. . in Göttingen. I have occupied myself with a trea- German script by Karl Krause and Alexander Hartmann. . and therefore I would by far prefer to leave both to the editor.

that in the manuscript I recently sent to pletely ordered form. or send me. I would concede that in this santly taken up and frittered away in so many ways. for the recollection. other case than the present one. however. by means of the consideration that the père’s law by means of the formula empirically derived definition of the coefficient of the second term. since that is contained in a wholly different formula. which would require No. since. 1845. whether one (with you) views this as merely a modification tion to go through the little treatise you were so good as to of Ampère’s law. In any Since the beginning of this year. which can still be seen today in the Gauss House at Göttingen. that: sustained work. February 1 formula would be a more general one. you can claim that F = 0. and hence that coefficient. I may permit myself to express a judgment based on Namely. which you mention in a later letter. since no one can be in 42 Fall 1 9 9 6 21st CENTURY . has shown me that the subject the matter). and that in order to be able to express a thor. even if not in com- I have just noticed. and to which I just now have been able to give a first whether (as. is at bottom little more than idle word-play. This. Ampère’s formula. there is apparently missing a note regarding Ampère’s for. in 1834-1836). still living. which would be necessary in order to understand it. namely. but I would have to first plunge into Weber to Gauss. to begin with. one following the other. would have to mutually repel Nor do I believe that Ampère would be satisfied by the ap- one another. in any ough and exhaustive judgment upon your treatise. Ampère has given a more general expression. he would decidedly protest. study of my own work from that period. because of the unreliability of the method. (I) thy. 19 March 1845 where Ampère experimentally derived F = 1/2 G. the state of my health is so little favorable to perhaps clarify the matter as follows. On the ta - bles at left are various electrical and magnetic apparatus. a third party would the other hand. Ampère would have to view quick glance. 1 February 1845 all the more time. 30. I would think. where you cast the difference in such a way. this is nothing less than a complete overturning of belongs to the same investigations with which I very exten. by the same reasoning would have to be set = 0. The large coil in the center mounted on a wooden dolly is from the Earth inductor. having been removed from that subject for sev- mula. just like Your most devoted. while. it does not other case I would gladly grant this. As I said. Wilhelm Weber *** Gauss to Weber. were Ampère interaction of two current elements. namely If I am not in error. my time has been inces. than I introduce there. when you express Am- which I seek to justify. in my estimation. I have not been in any posi. which I have discarded. With heartfelt respect. so long as it lacks a more precise quantitative de- termination. you yourself earlier expressed certain thoughts about discarding the negative value which Ampère (II)2 assumed for that coefficient by means of which two current el- ements. pended note. seems completely untrustwor. in the course of a preliminary survey of papers. that up to now. al- Highly honored Herr Hofrath: though probably many more will be extant. and the introduction of an essentially differ- sively occupied myself some 10 years ago (I mean especially ent one. that Ampère’s Leipzig. An exhibit honoring Gauss and Weber in June 1899 at Göttingen University. you think Esteemed friend: that with equal correctness. if. eral years. However. Portraits of the scientists are sur - rounded by their experi - mental apparatus and il - lustrations of their experiments. you. I have found only some fragmentary snatches. *** suffice to read through it. that. be- cause Ampère’s experiments may not be very exact. and on discordance between you and Ampère.

are in relative motion) from the action which is not instanta - tal question. thus. one can place a cult for me to pursue the invitation to Cambridge. what I considered to be the actual keystone Wilhelm Weber was lacking Notes––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– Nil actum reputans si quid superesset agendum 1. Perhaps I am in a position to again delve somewhat further Möbius. this line determines the side of the sec. In response to your kind invitation. than the ones from immediate empirical experience would prevent us from presupposing that other components which he cites at the beginning of his treatise. whether Ampère (whose memoire. not to remain chosen in its place. fail to come to Göttingen by the end of this spring. for Ampère’s entire theory of the interchangeabil.F. Society in London a copy of the five last annual summaries of and. but determines the other form. Certainly. that it would first be necessary to make a con- have Ampère’s classic treatise at hand. since they did not buy it. if the effect is to occur in the direction of the Professor Buff from Giessen. I do not know. in the present case the difference is a vi. so long as this other formula were not Ever yours. that the above-mentioned No. that Ampère. his former colleague in ever. if another is recall enough of the investigation at the time. with a subject which I conceived from the start might well be beyond me. I am all the happier that you are inclined to turn your attention once more and that I do not know. for the measurement of angle u. Both of them signify the same thing. by way of the book dealer. the difficulty père’s law with exactness. 31. enough to write. is considering as a positive effect. who is travelling from here to straight lines connecting the two current elements. and allows no other which is not identical with that one for a Highly honored Herr Hofrath: closed current. if work remains to be done] 2. It has choose countless other forms. while. I have been in- duced to occupy myself up to a point. However. Whence the + sign in front of the whole formula instead of the 2 sign. even if he himself were to admit the incom. one can also add that. and my sister. and one uses the first tion of the effect would be the most beautiful solution of the form. since I do not conviction. to be a slight modification in my premise. when one measures the angle u. I will certainly not ited straight line. not repulsion. ond angle in the opposite way. This seems to be Gauss’s only error of memory: The epsilon should be an namely. the derivation of the additional forces (which enter omega. which has now grown so remote from me. May. is inadmissible. and continued to be so. been of great interest to me to learn from what you were kind must always give the same end result as Ampère’s formula. tained the exact expression of Ampère’s law. in one sense or another. which are only effec. With hearty greetings to your brothers and sister and to Pro- pleteness of his experiments. since for this purpose it is cient he calls k in his fundamental law. if they tion] than I. convinced. because it seemed somewhat tive at immeasurably small distances (as molecular attraction simpler. You must C. neous. Without a doubt. And. Göttingen. Gauss have misunderstood the reservations which. who is now celebrating his silver wedding anniver- into this subject. riddle. since it will be diffi- twice. which for a closed current. but on the contrary (in a way comparable to light) prop- ity of magnetism with galvanic currents depends absolutely on agates itself in time. that success could perhaps be attained I cannot contradict you. 19 March 1845 would fall to pieces. had it not been the case that at the point Your most devoted. Early on I was Weber to Gauss. nor do I recall the structible representation of the way in which the propagation manner of his experiments at all. would authorize the adoption of fessor Möbius. I would have made my investigations Leipzig. it. I do not have at hand) used the first or the second nota. The title by which Weber addressed Gauss is approximately translated as “Mr. 21st CENTURY Fall 1996 43 . if one Royal Society has obtained a copy of the first annual summary. 31 March 1845 interchangeability necessarily requires the Ampère formula. that. wholly without hope. I myself have expressed. I the correctness of Formula II and is wholly lost. In order to avert misunderstanding. At the time. In conformity with your instructions. I will further remark. in the definition of the coeffi- Furthermore. remember themselves to you and your the time that you delight me with a visit. and through the en- the Formula II above can also be written couragement of Fechner and later Möbius. I will send to the Royal when one is considering a straight line of indeterminate length. that Through the interest taken in the matter. I did not succeed. because it does not reproduce Am- takes the place of gravitation). will have the goodness to bring you these pages. I have easily ob- rent could be removed. into the reciprocal action of electrical particles at rest. the derivation. if one relinquishes the just-expressed condition. 1845. Court Councillor. March 31 public long ago.” [Discussions accomplish nothing. as you have given me daughter with the greatest regard. however. according to *** your second letter. by means of what seems to me of the repulsion of two successive elements of the same cur. and that hence might possibly enter into the formula. u′. hope that you will do at the end of April or the beginning of With the most heartfelt respect.verbis facilior [more easy-going in matters of verbal formula. reinforced by completely decisive experiments. when you pronounce Ampère’s later. where I broke off. the explanation derived from a gradual propaga- tion. but attraction. as I to this arduous subject. by sary. although—if I remember correctly—with the subjective experiments to be not very conclusive. one can Cassel. nonetheless I do not believe occurs. and to give a complete development of said. u′ with the same delim. one resorts to that line the Resultate. how. which I first gave. was guided by other always a matter of effects at measurable distances. and that thereby. likewise. whereby his entire theory Göttingen. nothing reasons. an entirely different formula (I). that Ampère. yet. in order to visit Woehler.