James Clerk Maxwell    

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James Clerk Maxwell (June 13 1831 November 5 1879) was a Scottish scientist in the field of mathematical physics. His most notable achievement was to formulate the classical theory of electromagnetic radiation, bringing together for the first time electricity, magnetism, and light as manifestations of the same phenomenon. Maxwell's equations for electromagnetism have been called the "second great unification in physics" after the first one realised by Isaac Newton.

With the publication of "A Dynamical Theory of the Electromagnetic Field" in 1865, Maxwell demonstrated that electric and magnetic fields travel through space as waves moving at the speed of light. Maxwell proposed that light is an undulation in the same medium that is the cause of electric and magnetic phenomena. The unification of light and electrical phenomena led to the prediction of the existence of radio waves.

Maxwell helped develop the Maxwell-Boltzmann distribution, a statistical means of describing aspects of the kinetic theory of gases. He is also known for presenting the first durable colour photograph in 1861 and for his foundational work on analysing the rigidity of rod-and-joint frameworks (trusses) like those in many bridges.

His discoveries helped usher in the era of modern physics, laying the foundation for such fields as special relativity and quantum mechanics. Many physicists regard Maxwell as the 19th-century scientist having the greatest influence on 20th-century physics. His contributions to the science are considered by many to be of the same magnitude as those of Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein. In the Millennium Poll (a survey of the 100 most prominent physicists) Maxwell was voted the third greatest physicist of all time, behind only Newton and Einstein. On the centenary of Maxwell's birthday, Einstein described Maxwell's work as the "most profound and the most fruitful that physics has experienced since the time of Newton".


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  • On the Description of Oval Curves, and those having a plurality of Focus (geometry). Proceedings of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, Vol. II. (1846)
  • Illustrations of the Dynamical Theory of Gases. 1860.
  • On Physical Lines of Force 1861.
  • A Dynamical Theory of the Electromagnetic Field 1865.
  • On Governors From the Proceedings of the Royal Society, No.100. 1868.
  • Theory of Heat 1871.
  • A Treatise on Electricity and Magnetism Clarendon Press, Oxford (1873)
  • Molecules Nature, September, 1873.
  • Matter and Motion 1876.
  • On the Results of Bernoulli's Theory of Gases as Applied to their Internal Friction, their Diffusion, and their Conductivity for Heat.
  • Ether Encyclopedia Britannica, Ninth Edition (1875 1889).

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