Maxwell's Equations

Maxwell's equations are the set of four equations, attributed to James Clerk Maxwell, that describe the behavior of both the electric and magnetic fields, as well as their interactions with matter.

Maxwell's four equations express, respectively, how electric charges produce electric fields (Gauss's law), the experimental absence of magnetic charges, how currents produce magnetic fields (Ampère's law), and how changing magnetic fields produce electric fields (Faraday's law of induction). Maxwell, in 1864, was the first to put all four equations together and to notice that a correction was required to Ampere's law: changing electric fields act like currents, likewise producing magnetic fields.

Furthermore, Maxwell showed that the four equations, with his correction, predict waves of oscillating electric and magnetic fields that travel through empty space at a speed that could be predicted from simple electrical experiments—using the data available at the time, Maxwell obtained a velocity of 310,740,000 m/s. Maxwell (1865) wrote:

This velocity is so nearly that of light, that it seems we have strong reason to conclude that light itself (including radiant heat, and other radiations if any) is an electromagnetic disturbance in the form of waves propagated through the electromagnetic field according to electromagnetic laws.

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