- JAMES CLERK MAXWELL - Fun Facts | BoysJoys



Fun Facts - JAMES CLERK MAXWELL



James Clerk Maxwell of Glenlair(13 June 1831 – 5 November 1879) was a Scottish physicist and mathematician. His most prominent achievement was formulating classical electromagnetic theory. This unites all previously unrelated observations, experiments, and equations of electricity, magnetism, and optics into a consistent theory.Maxwell's equations demonstrate that electricity, magnetism and light are all manifestations of the same phenomenon, namely the electromagnetic field. Subsequently, all other classic laws or equations of these disciplines became simplified cases of Maxwell's equations. Maxwell's achievements concerning electromagnetism have been called the "second great unification in physics",after the first one realised by Isaac Newton.

Maxwell demonstrated that electric and magnetic fields travel through space in the form of waves and at the constant speed of light. In 1865, Maxwell published A Dynamical Theory of the Electromagnetic Field. It was with this that he first proposed that light was in fact undulations in the same medium that is the cause of electric and magnetic phenomena.His work in producing a unified model of electromagnetism is one of the greatest advances in physics.

Maxwell also helped develop the Maxwell–Boltzmann distribution, which is a statistical means of describing aspects of the kinetic theory of gases. These two discoveries helped usher in the era of modern physics, laying the foundation for such fields as special relativity and quantum mechanics.

Maxwell is also known for presenting the first durable colour photograph in 1861 and for his foundational work on the rigidity of rod-and-joint frameworks like those in many bridges.


  • James Maxwell was born in Edinburgh, Scotland on the 13th of June 1831 and died on the 5th of November 1879.

  • He produced a set of equations, known as ‘Maxwell’s Equations’ that explain the properties of magnetic and electric fields and help show that light is an electromagnetic wave.

  • His impressive work was described in papers such as ‘On Physical Lines of Force’, ‘A Dynamic Theory of the Electromagnetic Field’ and ‘A Treatise on Electricity and Magnetism’.

  • Maxwell’s contributions played an important role in the advances made in 20th century physics and his work was often admired by fellow physicist Albert Einstein.

  • Maxwell attended Edinburgh University from 1847 to 1850. He also spent a large amount of time at his home studying and undertaking various experiments.

  • After his time at Edinburgh University, Maxwell moved on to Cambridge University where he remained from 1850 to 1856. He further developed his mathematical skills and other ideas before accepting a professorship at Aberdeen University in 1856.

  • Maxwell was awarded a prize in1859 for his essay ‘On the Stability of Saturn's Rings’, which described the nature of Saturn’s rings as numerous small particles rather than a solid or fluid ring.

  • A large amount of Maxwell’s research was based on the work of Michael Faraday, and although Maxwell was 40 years younger, the two meet each other on many occasions.

  • Maxwell also made numerous contributions in the fields of color analysis, kinetic theory and thermodynamics. He is even attributed with creating the first true color photograph.