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    by George

    Math Tutorials and More
    by George

    James Clerk Maxwell (1831-1879)

    Picture of James Clerk Maxwell

    James Clerk Maxwell is considered by many to have been the greatest physicist of the nineteenth century. He ranks alongside Newton and Einstein as one of the greatest of all time. His greatest achievement was in formulating the fundamental laws of electricity and magnetism incorporated in what are now called Maxwell's equations. From these equations he predicted the existence of electromagnetic waves (radio and TV waves for example) twenty years before they were first generated and observed by Hertz. He also showed that light was an electromagnetic wave. Today electromagnetic waves are used in radios, televisions, cell phones, x-rays, microwave ovens, wireless internet, and many other devices that play a big part in our life today. In addition, Maxwell was the first to develop a truly mathematical theory for color perception based on three primary colors. In this regard, He is credited with producing the first color photograph and with discovering the cause of color-blindness. He was also the first to employ statistical laws in physics with his kinetic theory of gases. Such laws now have an important role in statistical mechanics, thermodynamics, and quantum theory. Maxwell also proved that the rings of Saturn could only be stable if they consisted of numerous independently orbiting pieces of matter of various sizes. This was later verified by Voyager flybys in the 1980s. Maxwell was a committed Christian throughout his life and his faith played a big part in both his science and in his personal life. He was greatly loved by his friends and associates, and was admired for his gentle manner, his concern for others, and his integrity. Sadly he only lived to age 48, but his accomplishments in this short time are truly amazing. I have described his life and his faith in the paper entitled “James Clerk Maxwell: His Life and His Faith.” An Adobe Acrobat file containing this paper can be opened by clicking on Maxwell.pdf.