Oliver Heaviside: The Life, Work, and Times of an Electrical Genius of the Victorian Age

Author: Paul J. Nahin
4.6
This Month Hacker News 1

Comments

by ncmncm   2019-01-09
It is unfortunate that Dyson neglects the role of Oliver Heaviside, again. This is in a long tradition of English neglect, ultimately traceable to Heaviside's status as a commoner. Heaviside invented the mathematical tools we still use to understand and teach Maxwell, and most of the important consequences of the theory, but Pupin, Hertz, Marconi, and deForest used his methods and <del>took</del> got the credit.

Today Heaviside's method is taught as Laplace transforms, with Heaviside's name scrubbed off. We only hear of him as an alternative name for the step function, the integral of the Dirac impulse function, and of the "Heaviside layer", the ionosphere that makes transcontinental radio actually possible, but we would have waited decades longer without him.

An excellent reference for the importance of Heaviside in the ultimate success of application if Maxwell's theory is Paul J. Nahin, "Oliver Heaviside: The Life, Work, and Times of an Electrical Genius of the Victorian Age", https://www.amazon.com/Oliver-Heaviside-Electrical-Genius-Vi...