"Alternating Current" A Lecture by Howard Fisher
Wednesday, April 26, 2023
3:15 p.m., JCR
The technology of alternating current was developed almost entirely in response to the emerging demands of large-scale power generation and transmission. Perhaps for that reason, educational institutions tend to treat it as a subject of practical rather than theoretical interest: alternating current is studied extensively in engineering schools, more perfunctorily in physics departments.
But alternating current reveals a number of perplexing electrical phenomena that carry deep theoretical significance. Maxwell understood these phenomena through several remarkable analogies, couched in a highly metaphorical terminology that later generations viewed with suspicion and disdain. Maxwell, though, understood that analogy and metaphor are the most intellectually responsible forms of expression when we are reaching towards theories that lie, as yet, beyond our grasp.