One of the most famous laws of electrostatics is Coulombs Law. It is in all Physics books. It is usually presented as a result of experiments and a further proof of Newtons Law of Gravity. Indeed Coulombs Law is very much like Newtons.
But can we really state that it is the result of experiments and that the action at a distance model is confirmed?
To provide an answer, the two articles (of 1785 and 1787) are here reproduced, in which Coulomb explains the "law". We have made a 3D reconstruction of the two instruments invented and used by the French scientist: the torsion balance and the electric pendulum.. You are offered the possibility of making a quantitative simulation of Coulombs experiments.
Some interesting features immediately become apparent: the inverse square law already underlies the experiments at the planning stage, corroboration is limited and somewhat imprecise (Coulomb talks of only three measurements taken during one single experiment) and the numerator is only added in the second of the two articles.
Apart from the experimental aspect, we have thus highlighted in the "Law" a conceptual and a formal-mathematical background.
There are other questions, though. Where did Coulomb get his ideas from? how were they received? Can we still consider his Law valid, after Maxwells theory of Action through Contact and Einsteins Theory of Relativity which cuts out infinite speed of interaction?
The present collection provides interesting and perhaps surprising answers. Certainly it is an introduction to the effective development of scientific research.