Thursday, June 13, 2013
June 13 - James Clerk Maxwell
Scottish physicist James Clerk Maxwell was born on June 13, 1831, in Edinburgh, where he was educated and experimented with chemical, electric and magnetic apparatuses and studied the properties of light. At Cambridge University, he exhibited his genius for mathematics and, in the 1850s, he summarized Michael Faraday's theories of electricity and magnetic lines of force in equations that are the basis of all modern theories of electromagnetic phenomena, showing that magnetism, electricity and light are simply different manifestations of the same fundamental laws of physics. His central work in 1865 demonstrated that electric and magnetic fields travel through space as waves moving at the speed of light. This led to our understanding of radio waves, radar, radiant heat and electromagnetic radiation, and also laid the foundations for Einstein's special theory of relativity. Einstein compared Maxwell's work with that of Isaac Newton, and kept a picture of Maxwell on his study wall, with those of Faraday and Newton.