The Electromagnetic Underpinning of Economic Growth
The world doesn’t need another review of Nancy Forbes’ and Basil Mahon’s wonderful book. However, after thinking about it, I believe that the explosion in economic growth from 1870-1970 discussed by Robert J. Gordon in his “The Rise and Fall of American Growth” would never have happened were it not for Michael Faraday and James Clerk Maxwell.
What Forbes and Mahon describe are the lives of Faraday and Maxwell and how through their experiments they came to discover some of the most fundamental secrets in nature. What Maxwell does in his 1873 “Treatise and Electricity and Magnetism” is to put a mathematical foundation underneath Faraday’s brilliant experiments. The rest is history. The world became electrified, radio and mass communications became of age and only 32 years later, building on their foundations, Einstein publishes his essays on relativity and the photoelectric effect.
The science is so monumental that it offers support for Gordon’s thesis that the economic growth achieved from 1870-1970 was based on a series of one-off events.
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