Article ID: CBB110038655

The Lorenz-Lorentz Formula: Origin and Early History (2018)


Among the many eponymous formulae and laws met in textbooks in physics and chemistry, the Lorenz-Lorentz formula merits attention from a historical point of view. The somewhat curious name of this formula, which relates the refractive index of a substance to its density, reflects its dual origin in two areas of nineteenth-century physics, namely optics and electromagnetism. Although usually dated to 1880, the formula was first established in 1869 by L. V. Lorenz (optics) and subsequently in 1878 by H.A. Lorentz (electromagnetism). Apart from discussing the origin and priority of the Lorenz-Lorentz formula the paper outlines its early use in molecular physics and physical chemistry. During the late nineteenth century studies of molecular refractivity based on the formula proved important in a number of ways. For example, they led to estimates of the size of molecules and provided information about the structure of chemical compounds.

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Authors & Contributors
Kragh, Helge S.
Kox, Anne J.
Lorentz, Hendrik Antoon
Chalmers, Alan Francis
D'Agostino, Salvatore
Samueli, Jean-Jacques
Physics in Perspective
Archive for History of Exact Sciences
Ziran Kexueshi Yanjiu (Studies in the History of Natural Sciences)
Science and Education
Philosophy of Science
European Review
Pavia University Press
Det Kongelige Danske Videnskabernes Selskab
The Royal Danish Science Society
Philosophy of science
Lorentz, Hendrik Antoon
Maxwell, James Clerk
Faraday, Michael
Lorenz, Ludvig Valentin
Hertz, Heinrich Rudolph
Einstein, Albert
Time Periods
19th century
20th century, early
20th century
17th century
16th century
Great Britain
United Kingdom

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