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Archive for August 29th, 2008

Amateur Radio Beginnings

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We feel that the greatest objection against this bill is that if it is passed it will stifle the ambition and great inventive genius of American boys.  We boys of today are the citizens of tomorrow.  We have, many of us, already chosen wireless as our line of work.  There are vast possibilities, great discoveries, and marvelous inventions yet to be revealed in the study of radio communications.  We boys want a try at the grave rewards that are to come to the successful experimenter and inventors and these lines.  Wireless is not mere play for us boys as some seem to think.  We love the work, hence the name and amateur; but it is always the amateur or lower of a line of work who produces results.”
–  1912 – Amateur Stokes regarding Senate Bill 6412

The Discovery

James Clerk Maxwell in 1867 speculated that “electromagnetic undulations permeated the Universe”.  Maxwell gave definition to this by the famous Maxwell’s equations.  Up until the point of Maxwell scientists always had some sort of physical model to explain the outcome of an experiment.  This is the case with Michael Faraday, a contemporary of Maxwell, who explained magnetic lines of force using the physical analogy of hydraulics.  The point being that science almost always presented a physical model to explain some experimental observable outcome.

The Aether

Not so with Maxwell.  There were Maxwell’s equations describing the propagation of electromagnetic radiation but no physical model of how this worked.  And so, in the paradigm of the day, folks gave it one.  Using the analogy of sound transmitted through air there must be a medium though which EM (Electromagnetic Radiation) travels through to get from point A to point B.  Such was born the aether.

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Written by frrl

August 29, 2008 at 12:24 am

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