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This book is the result of many years of wondering about and researching the conceptual foundations of electromagnetics. My goal was to write a book that provided the reader with a conceptual understanding of electromagnetics and the insight to efficiently apply this understanding to real problems that confront scientists, engineers, and technicians. The fundamental equations that govern electromagnetic phenomena are those given to us by James Clerk Maxwell, and are commonly known as Maxwell’s equations. Excepting quantum phenomena, all electromagnetic problems can be solved from Maxwell’s equations.
(The complete theory of electromagnetics, which includes quantum effects, is quantum electrodynamics, often abbreviated as QED.) However, many people lack the time and/or mathematical background to pursue the laborious calculations involved with the equations of electromagnetism. Furthermore, mathematics is just a tool, albeit a very powerful tool. For many problems, exacting calculations are not required. To truly understand, develop, and apply any branch of science requires a solid conceptual understanding of the material. As Albert Einstein stated, “Physics is essentially an intuitive and concrete science. Mathematics is only a means for expressing the laws that govern phenomena.
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”* To this end, this book does not present Maxwell’s equations and does not require any knowledge of these equations; nor is it required for the reader to know calculus or advanced mathematics. The lack of advanced math in this book, I’m sure, will be a tremendous relief to most readers. However, to some readers, lack of mathematical rigor will be a negative attribute and perhaps a point for criticism. I contend that as long as the facts are correct and presented clearly, mathematics is not necessary for fundamental understanding, but rather for detailed treatment of problems. Moreover, everyday scientific practice shows that knowing the mathematical theory does not ensure understanding of the real physical “picture.” Certainly, mathematics is required for any new theories or conclusions.
The material that I cover has been addressed formally in the literature, and readers are encouraged to pursue the numerous references given throughout. Conceptual methods for teaching the physical sciences have long been in use, but I think that the field of electromagnetics has been neglected and needs a book such as this. If relativity, quantum theory, and particle physics can be taught without mathematics, why not electromagnetics? As inspiration and guide for my writing I looked to the style of writing in works such as The Art of Electronics by Paul Horowitz and Winifred Hill, several books by Richard Feynman, and the articles of the magazine Scientific American.
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