Physics 420

Advanced Electricity and Magnetism

This course will focus on electrostatics and magnetostatics, ultimately
arriving at Maxwell’s integration of these two ideas into electromagnetism. Electrodynamics is
by no means a closed subject, but has foundational principles which have stood the test of time
and scrutiny. The complete formulation of the laws of classical electricity and magnetism
culminates in the prediction of electromagnetic waves, perhaps the greatest triumph of 19th
century physics. Incidentally, this is the first physical theory to satisfy the requirements of
special relativity and was the theory that led Einstein to his postulates. In this course we’ll
develop these principles and use them to attempt to explain (and predict) certain physical
processes while taking brief trips into contemporary topics. As we’ll see, E & M requires us to
develop a high degree of mathematical sophistication as well as a deep conceptual foundation in
order to truly gain an understanding of this topic. We will also work to integrate computation
into this course in appropriate ways.