Encyclopedia > James Clerk Maxwell

  Article Content

James Clerk Maxwell

James Clerk Maxwell (June 13, 1831 - November 5, 1879) was a Scottish physicist who demonstrated that electric[?] and magnetic forces are two aspects of electromagnetism. He further showed that electric and magnetic fields travel through space, in the form of waves, at a speed of 3.0 × 108 m/s. He thus argued that light was a form of electromagnetic radiation.

Maxwell was born in Edinburgh, Scotland. He codified earlier work on electricity and magnetism by Michael Faraday, André-Marie Ampère, and others into a linked set of twenty differential equations in quaternions, the similar mathematical system used later by Einstein for the theory of relativity. Both theories have many similarities, and we can say that Maxwell's theory of electromagnetism was a precursor of the relativity. Heaviside simplified the theory down to four differential equations, known collectively as Maxwell's Laws or Maxwell's equations. Maxwell's Laws describe the nature of static and moving electric and magnetic charges, and the relationship between the two, namely electromagnetic induction. The equations allow for the existence of a self-propagating electromagnetic wave which has the same velocity as that of light, suggesting that light is in fact that electromagnetic wave. The validity of that suggestion was later demonstrated in experiments by Heinrich Rudolf Hertz, and was fundamental to the invention of radio, usually attributed to Guglielmo Marconi.

In 1860 Maxwell discovered that color photographs could be formed using red, green, and blue filters. He had the photographer Thomas Sutton[?] photograph a tartan ribbon three times, each time with a different colour filter over the lens. The three images were developed and then projected onto a screen with three different projectors, each equipped with the same colour filter used to take its image. When brought into register, the three images formed a full colour image

Maxwell also did basic work on thermodynamics which led him to the well known thought experiment, Maxwell's demon.

See also: physics

"The special theory of relativity owes its origins to Maxwell's equations of the electromagnetic field" -- Albert Einstein

There is a mountain range on Venus, Maxwell Montes, named after James Clerk Maxwell.

Upon arriving at Cambridge University, he was told there would be a compulsory 6am church service (now discontinued, fortunately!) He stroked his beard thoughtfully, and slowly pronounced, in a thick Scots Brogue, "Aye, I suppose I could stay up that late"



All Wikipedia text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License

 
  Search Encyclopedia

Search over one million articles, find something about almost anything!
 
 
  
  Featured Article
TLAs from QAA to TZZ

... SID SIE[?] SIF[?] SIG[?] SIH[?] SII[?] SIJ[?] SIK[?] SIL[?] SIM SIN[?] SIO[?] SIP SIQ[?] SIR[?] SIS SIT SIU[?] SIV[?] SIW[?] SIX[?] SIY[?] SIZ[?] SJA[?] SJB[?] SJC[?] ...