The fact that a Lorentz force in a reference frame 1 can become a Coulomb force in another reference frame 2 has always astonished me, especially because the velocities involved are really small.

I wonder: who was the first to discuss this peculiar interpretation (or effect) of Lorentz transformations of the EM-field?

In this Wikipedia article a letter from Einstein is mentioned in which he writes:

What led me more or less directly to the special theory of relativity was the conviction that the electromotive force acting on a body in motion in a magnetic field was nothing else but an electric field.

However, this letter dates from 1953. I wonder whether Einstein really discussed this in his earlier articles? Did he not mainly discuss the effects in space-time-coordinates of an invariant and finite speed of light? Further I noted that a publication by E. Purcell from 1965 is often referenced.

Are there also publications known from the beginning of the 20th century? So, not publications that deal with Lorentz-transformations of the EM-field in general, but that specifically discuss changes in charge distiributions due to length contraction etc.

  • $\begingroup$ I believe the answer to your question is in Einstein's 1905 famous paper Zur Elektrodynamik bewegter Körper (On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies) in the second section Electrodynamical Part. Internet is full of translations and the original, if you know german. Here's a link: :fourmilab.ch/etexts/einstein/specrel/www/#tex2html10 $\endgroup$ – hjhjhj57 Jan 13 '15 at 7:37
  • $\begingroup$ @Javier: I am looking for the first publication that discusses the intricacies of the space-time interpretation of the Lorentz-transformation of EM-forces. In this original article A.E. deduces and uses the transformation, but he doesn't discuss their space-time intricacies. $\endgroup$ – Gerard Jan 13 '15 at 14:11
  • $\begingroup$ I see. Maybe you should check the articles references. Let's see what other users have to say about it :) $\endgroup$ – hjhjhj57 Jan 14 '15 at 1:08
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    $\begingroup$ I just realized Einstein's paper doesn't have any references. (!!!) $\endgroup$ – hjhjhj57 Jan 14 '15 at 10:38
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    $\begingroup$ @Javier Yeah, just try to get away with that today. =D $\endgroup$ – David H Jan 16 '15 at 19:22

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