Oliver Heaviside

Posted by Beetle B. on Tue 13 April 2021

I recently read an article on Oliver Heaviside. He’s one of those scientists whose work touched several disciplines.

Apparently, Maxwell’s Equations as we know them were formulated by Heaviside. He took Maxwell’s original equations, and identified \(\mathbf{E}\) and \(\mathbf{B}\) to be the key quantities and reformulated the equations around these. Notably, in doing so, he removed some of the generality of Maxwell’s equations. The original equations work better with quantum physics.

He also identified \(j\omega L\) and \(1/j\omega C\) as the impedances for inductors and capacitors.

Finally, this always drove me nuts about physicists:

Mathematics is of two kinds, Rigorous and Physical. The former is Narrow: the latter Bold and Broad. To have to stop to formulate rigorous demonstrations would put a stop to most physico-mathematical enquiries. Am I to refuse to eat because I do not fully understand the mechanism of digestion?