Oliver Heaviside was born 165 years ago today in London. In the 1880's, he was the middle man between Maxwell (and his 1860's equations) and Tesla (and his 1900's inventions). Oliver was the first guy to really, really understand Maxwell's equations; so much so that he rewrote them for clarity. He reduced 12 of the original 20 equations with 20 unknowns (a barely solvable mess) to four equations with two unknowns. His are the ones we all know and love today, and the ones someone should letter for me on a shirt. Oliver dropped out of school at 16, was hearing-impaired, had a naturally scowling face, and was not a very nice guy, all strikes against him in the mainstream social/scientific circles. But he was smart a hell, which further pissed off just about everyone, and had some cred: Heaviside's uncle by marriage was Sir Charles Wheatstone, the original co-inventor of the first commercially successful telegraph in the mid-1830s, and an internationally celebrated expert in telegraphy and electromagnetism. That other telegraph guy, Morse, came along one year later. Oliver independently developed the Laplace transform, co-formulated vector analysis, and the biggie - introduced complex arithmetic into the study of electric circuits. This is something Maxwell missed, a concept that requires some thought. Complex arithmetic/algebra/math/whatever is an extension of normal numbers to include a weird part; so weird that the official name for the weird part is "imaginary numbers." Every number in all of anything has both a real and imaginary part. The majority of the time the imaginary part is zero and no one cares about it, but the little puppy is there all the same, and is absolutely everywhere in electronics. It is the math behind the treble and bass controls on a stereo, and power companies hate fluorescent lights because they draw "imaginary power" (I swear that's what it is called.). Doing research from home, Heaviside helped develop transmission line theory (also known as the "telegrapher's equations"), and used it to invent and patent coaxial cable - the cable of cable-tv. Imaginary numbers are based on something called "the imaginary unit", equal to the square root of -1. For centuries this was more of a philosophical curiosity than an area of mathematical study. In the 16th century some Italians got serious about it, so while imaginary numbers were very real in math circles by the late 19th, they had almost zero application in the real world. Oliver Heaviside changed that, showing that complex vector analysis is at the core of a great many things in general, and everything that is electrical. From the dumbest flashlight to encrypted satellite radio, Heaviside's math is to the circuits what Fourier's math is to the signals. ak
an everflowing fountain of "mystery" often taken advantage of by the scammers and dreamers, is his reduction of Maxwells equations. Most claims are centered on the 'missing' portions of those equations developed by Maxwell as simplified by Heaviside. It is claimed the secrets of perpetual motion and over-unity devices has been 'hidden by his re-write of Maxwells equations.