Maxwell's Birthday

Today June 13th is another Giant Birthday, James Clerk Maxwell was born in 1831 at Edinburgh, Scotland. There are number of good biographies on the web (see list below) so I will not bother writing a summary biography for this post.

Maxwell’s greatest contribution is his grouping and independent derivation of equations originally developed by Gauss, Ampere, Faraday and others into what is commonly referred to as Maxwell’s Equations. This and his other work in physics has been so instrumental in the advancement of our understanding that I feel he ranks right up with Newton and Einstein in importance to science overall. In the now nearly obsolete CGS system, the derived unit of magnetic flux was named the maxwell in his honor.

James Clerk Maxwell’s importance to physics is highlighted by these quotations from other giants in science.

Albert Einstein –
“The special theory of relativity owes its origins to Maxwell’s equations of the electromagnetic field”
“The work of James Clerk Maxwell changed the world forever”

Max Planck –
“He achieved greatness unequalled.”

Carl Sagan –
“Maxwell’s equations have had a greater impact on human history than any ten presidents.”

Richard Feynman –
“From a long view of the history of mankind – seen from, say, ten thousand years from now – there can be little doubt that the most significant event of the 19th century will be judged as Maxwell’s discovery of the laws of electrodynamics. The American Civil War will pale into provincial insignificance in comparison with this important scientific event of the same decade.”

National University of Singapore
University of St Andrews
James Clerk Maxwell Foundation
1911 Encyclopedia Britannica