James Maxwell


James Clerk Maxwell (b. 13 June 1831, currently age 40) is a Scottish mathematician and theoretical physicist. His most significant achievement to date has been the development of the new Electromagnetic Theory, synthesizing all previous unrelated observations, experiments and equations of electricity, magnetism and even optics into a consistent theory.

His set of equations—Maxwell’s equations—demonstrated that electricity, magnetism and even light are all manifestations of the same phenomenon: the [[electromagnetic field]]. From that moment on, all other classical laws or equations of these disciplines became simplified cases of Maxwell’s equations. Maxwell’s work in [[electromagnetism]] has been called the “second great unification in physics”, after the first one carried out by Sir Isaac Newton.

Maxwell demonstrates that electric and magnetic fields travel through space in the form of waves, and at the constant speed of light. Just over 10 years ago, in 1864 Maxwell wrote A Dynamical Theory of the Electromagnetic Field, where he first proposes that light is, in fact, undulations in the same medium that is the cause of electric and magnetic phenomena. His work in producing a unified model of electromagnetism is considered to be one of the greatest advances in physics.

Maxwell also developed the Maxwell distribution, a statistical means to describe aspects of the kinetic theory of gases. These two discoveries helped usher in the era of modern physics, laying the foundation for future work in such fields as special relativity and quantum mechanics. He is also known for creating the first true [[colour photograph]] in 1861.

Maxwell is considered by many physicists to be the nineteenth century scientist with the greatest influence on modern physics. His contributions to the science are considered by many to be of equal magnitude as those of Sir Isaac Newton.

James Maxwell

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