The Man Who Changed EverythingThe Life of James Clerk Maxwell
This is the first biography in twenty years of James Clerk Maxwell, one of the greatest scientists of our time and yet a man relatively unknown to the wider public. Approaching science with a freshness unbound by convention or previous expectations, he produced some of the most original scientific thinking of the nineteenth century — and his discoveries went on to shape the twentieth century.
Preface. Acknowledgements. Chronology: principal events in Maxwell’s life. Cast of characters: Maxwell’s relations and close friends. Introduction. 1. A country boy: Glenlair 1831-1841. 2. Pins and string: Edinburgh Academy 1841-1847. 3. Philosophy: Edinburgh University 1847-1850 4. Learning to juggle: Cambridge 1850-1854. 5. Blue and yellow make pink: Cambridge 1854-1856. 6. Saturn and statistics: Aberdeen 1856-1860. 7. Spinning cells: London 1860-1862. 8. The beautiful equations: London 1862-1865. 9. The Laird at home: Glenlair 1865-1870. 10. The Cavendish: Cambridge 1870-1879. 11. Last days. 12. Maxwell’s legacy. Notes. Bibliography. Index.
"This is a wonderful, short biography that gives a vivid account of James Clerk Maxwell's life and work." (Materials Today, June 2004) "...an absorbing account of Maxwell's life and work" (Sunday Telegraph Review, 19th September 2004) "...provides the reader with the opportunity to understand Maxwell's contributions to modern science and technology." (The Mathematical Gazette, March 2005) "...a fascinating book about an inspiring man..." (Journal of Raman Spectroscopy, Vol.36, No.3, March 2005)
Basil Mahon is a former officer in the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers and a graduate in Engineering. He is a retired Government Civil Servant and ran the 1991 census in England and Wales. He has a long-time passion for the physical sciences and has for many years been fascinated by the impact that Maxwell has had on all our lives.
James Clerk Maxwell (1831- 1879) changed our perception of reality and laid the foundations for many of the scientific and technological advances of the twentieth century. An unassuming and modest man, who simply wanted to understand how the world around him worked, he made fundamental contributions to every aspect of physical science. By discovering the nature of electromagnetic waves, he made possible the development of our great communications networks: television, radio, radar and the mobile telephone. He took the first colour photograph and introduced the system of thought experiments, later used by Einstein. His influence across all areas of physical science has been enormous. Often his ideas were ahead of his time and we had to wait many years before others confirmed his theories. Leading scientists have always recognised Maxwell as a giant figure and he holds a unique position among them, inspiring both wonder and affection. In life, he was a blend of opposites - a serious man who saw fun everywhere, a hopeless teacher who inspired students, a shy man who was the hub of any gathering where he felt at ease.
"Since Maxwell's time, physical reality has been thought of as represented by continuous fields, and not capable of any mechanical interpretation. This change in the conception of reality is the most profound and the most fruitful that physics has experienced since the time of Newton." —Albert Einstein "He is easily, to physicists, the most magical figure of the nineteenth century." —Times Literary Supplement