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However, the attempt has been made, in the belief that there are many who, though they cannot follow the mathematical analysis of Maxwell's work, have sufficient general knowledge of physical ideas and principles to make an account of Maxwell and of the development of the truths that he discovered, subjects of intelligent interest. Maxwell's life was written in by two of those who were most intimately connected with him, Professor Lewis Campbell and Dr.

Many of the biographical details of the earlier part of this book are taken from their work CAx hikiboePitor Pskolt or Physics. SciExtific WorkColourt Visiox. SciExtific WorkMoleculak Theolty. He scored second highest in the final examination, coming behind Edward Routh and earning himself the title of Second Wrangler. He was later declared equal with Routh in the more exacting ordeal of the Smith's Prize examination. The nature and perception of colour was one such interest which he had begun at the University of Edinburgh while he was a student of Forbes.

Maxwell was made a fellow of Trinity on 10 October , sooner than was the norm, [53] and was asked to prepare lectures on hydrostatics and optics and to set examination papers.

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The year-old Maxwell was a good 15 years younger than any other professor at Marischal. He engaged himself with his new responsibilities as head of a department, devising the syllabus and preparing lectures. He focused his attention on a problem that had eluded scientists for years: the nature of Saturn's rings. It was unknown how they could remain stable without breaking up, drifting away or crashing into Saturn. Since neither was observed, he concluded that the rings must be composed of numerous small particles he called "brick-bats", each independently orbiting Saturn.

The rings are expected to vanish entirely over the next million years. They were engaged in February and married in Aberdeen on 2 June There was no room for two professors of Natural Philosophy, so Maxwell, despite his scientific reputation, found himself laid off.

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He was unsuccessful in applying for Forbes's recently vacated chair at Edinburgh, the post instead going to Tait. Maxwell's time at King's was probably the most productive of his career. He was awarded the Royal Society's Rumford Medal in for his work on colour and was later elected to the Society in Maxwell would often attend lectures at the Royal Institution , where he came into regular contact with Michael Faraday.

They nevertheless maintained a strong respect for each other's talents. This time is especially noteworthy for the advances Maxwell made in the fields of electricity and magnetism. He examined the nature of both electric and magnetic fields in his two-part paper " On physical lines of force ", which was published in In it he provided a conceptual model for electromagnetic induction , consisting of tiny spinning cells of magnetic flux.

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Two more parts were later added to and published in that same paper in early In the first additional part he discussed the nature of electrostatics and displacement current. In the second additional part, he dealt with the rotation of the plane of the polarisation of light in a magnetic field, a phenomenon that had been discovered by Faraday and is now known as the Faraday effect. In his paper 'On governors' he mathematically described the behaviour of governors, devices that control the speed of steam engines, thereby establishing the theoretical basis of control engineering.

Maxwell was also the first to make explicit use of dimensional analysis , in In he returned to Cambridge to become the first Cavendish Professor of Physics. Maxwell died in Cambridge of abdominal cancer on 5 November at the age of He had gauged and fathomed all the schemes and systems of philosophy, and had found them utterly empty and unsatisfying—"unworkable" was his own word about them—and he turned with simple faith to the Gospel of the Saviour. As death approached Maxwell told a Cambridge colleague, [45].

I have been thinking how very gently I have always been dealt with. I have never had a violent shove all my life. The only desire which I can have is like David to serve my own generation by the will of God, and then fall asleep. As a great lover of Scottish poetry , Maxwell memorised poems and wrote his own. It has the opening lines [87].

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A collection of his poems was published by his friend Lewis Campbell in Descriptions of Maxwell remark upon his remarkable intellectual qualities being matched by social awkwardness. Maxwell was an evangelical Presbyterian and in his later years became an Elder of the Church of Scotland. One facet of this conversion may have aligned him with an antipositivist position. Maxwell had studied and commented on electricity and magnetism as early as when his paper "On Faraday's lines of force" was read to the Cambridge Philosophical Society.

He reduced all of the current knowledge into a linked set of differential equations with 20 equations in 20 variables.

James Clerk Maxwell

Around , while lecturing at King's College, Maxwell calculated that the speed of propagation of an electromagnetic field is approximately that of the speed of light see speed of light electromagnetic constants. He considered this to be more than just a coincidence, commenting, "We can scarcely avoid the conclusion that light consists in the transverse undulations of the same medium which is the cause of electric and magnetic phenomena.

Working on the problem further, Maxwell showed that the equations predict the existence of waves of oscillating electric and magnetic fields that travel through empty space at a speed that could be predicted from simple electrical experiments; using the data available at the time, Maxwell obtained a velocity of ,, metres per second 1.

His famous twenty equations, in their modern form of four partial differential equations , first appeared in fully developed form in his textbook A Treatise on Electricity and Magnetism in Heaviside reduced the complexity of Maxwell's theory down to four differential equations , known now collectively as Maxwell's Laws or Maxwell's equations. According to Heaviside, the electromagnetic potential field was arbitrary and needed to be "murdered".

A few years later there was a debate between Heaviside and Peter Guthrie Tait about the relative merits of vector analysis and quaternions. The result was the realisation that there was no need for the greater physical insights provided by quaternions if the theory was purely local, and vector analysis became commonplace. Maxwell also introduced the concept of the electromagnetic field in comparison to force lines that Faraday described. At that time, Maxwell believed that the propagation of light required a medium for the waves, dubbed the luminiferous aether.

These difficulties inspired Albert Einstein to formulate the theory of special relativity ; in the process Einstein dispensed with the requirement of a stationary luminiferous aether. Along with most physicists of the time, Maxwell had a strong interest in psychology. Following in the steps of Isaac Newton and Thomas Young , he was particularly interested in the study of colour vision. From to , Maxwell published at intervals a series of investigations concerning the perception of colour, colour-blindness , and colour theory, and was awarded the Rumford Medal for "On the Theory of Colour Vision".

Isaac Newton had demonstrated, using prisms, that white lights, such as sunlight , are composed of a number of monochromatic components which could then be recombined into white light. Hence the paradox that puzzled physicists of the time: two complex lights composed of more than one monochromatic light could look alike but be physically different, called metameres.

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Thomas Young later proposed that this paradox could be explained by colours being perceived through a limited number of channels in the eyes, which he proposed to be threefold, [] the trichromatic colour theory. Maxwell used the recently developed Linear algebra to prove Young's theory. Any monochromatic light stimulating three receptors should be able to be equally stimulated by a set of three different monochromatic lights in fact, by any set of three different lights.

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He demonstrated that to be the case, [] inventing colour matching experiments and Colourimetry. Maxwell was also interested in applying his theory of colour perception, namely in colour photography. Stemming directly from his psychological work on colour perception: if a sum of any three lights could reproduce any perceivable colour, then colour photographs could be produced with a set of three coloured filters. In the course of his paper, Maxwell proposed that, if three black-and-white photographs of a scene were taken through red, green and blue filters and transparent prints of the images were projected onto a screen using three projectors equipped with similar filters, when superimposed on the screen the result would be perceived by the human eye as a complete reproduction of all the colours in the scene.

During an Royal Institution lecture on colour theory, Maxwell presented the world's first demonstration of colour photography by this principle of three-colour analysis and synthesis. Thomas Sutton , inventor of the single-lens reflex camera , took the picture. He photographed a tartan ribbon three times, through red, green, and blue filters, also making a fourth photograph through a yellow filter, which, according to Maxwell's account, was not used in the demonstration. Because Sutton's photographic plates were insensitive to red and barely sensitive to green, the results of this pioneering experiment were far from perfect.

It was remarked in the published account of the lecture that "if the red and green images had been as fully photographed as the blue," it "would have been a truly-coloured image of the riband. By finding photographic materials more sensitive to the less refrangible rays, the representation of the colours of objects might be greatly improved.

Maxwell also investigated the kinetic theory of gases. Originating with Daniel Bernoulli , this theory was advanced by the successive labours of John Herapath , John James Waterston , James Joule , and particularly Rudolf Clausius , to such an extent as to put its general accuracy beyond a doubt; but it received enormous development from Maxwell, who in this field appeared as an experimenter on the laws of gaseous friction as well as a mathematician.

James Clerk Maxwell | Biography & Facts | Britannica

Between and , he developed the theory of the distributions of velocities in particles of a gas, work later generalised by Ludwig Boltzmann. In the kinetic theory , temperatures and heat involve only molecular movement. This approach generalised the previously established laws of thermodynamics and explained existing observations and experiments in a better way than had been achieved previously.

His work on thermodynamics led him to devise the thought experiment that came to be known as Maxwell's demon , where the second law of thermodynamics is violated by an imaginary being capable of sorting particles by energy. In he established Maxwell's thermodynamic relations , which are statements of equality among the second derivatives of the thermodynamic potentials with respect to different thermodynamic variables. In , he constructed a plaster thermodynamic visualisation as a way of exploring phase transitions, based on the American scientist Josiah Willard Gibbs 's graphical thermodynamics papers.