Spring 2025

The Maxwellian Synthesis: Dynamics of Charges and Fields

Listed in: Physics and Astronomy, as PHYS-124


William A. Loinaz (Sections 01 and 01F)


In the mid-nineteenth century, completing nearly a century of work by others, Maxwell developed an elegant set of equations describing the dynamical behavior of electromagnetic fields. A remarkable consequence of Maxwell’s equations is that the wave theory of light is subsumed under electrodynamics. Moreover, we know from subsequent developments that the electromagnetic interaction largely determines the structure and properties of ordinary matter. This course will begin with Coulomb’s Law but will quickly introduce the concept of the electric field. Students will explore moving charges and their connection with the magnetic field, study currents and electrical circuits, and discuss Faraday’s introduction of the dynamics of the magnetic field and Maxwell’s generalization. Laboratory exercises will concentrate on circuits and electronic measuring instruments. Four hours of lecture and discussion and one three-hour laboratory per week. The lab component is a half credit course. 

Requisite: MATH 121 and PHYS 116 or 123. Limited to 24 students. Spring semester;  Professor Loinaz

How to handle overenrollment: Preference to first year students

Students who enroll in this course will likely encounter and be expected to engage in the following intellectual skills, modes of learning, and assessment: quantitative work, lab work and working in groups

Course Materials


Other years: Offered in Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Spring 2017, Spring 2018, Spring 2019, Spring 2023, Spring 2025