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post #1 of 16 (permalink) Old 12-13-2006, 07:38 PM Thread Starter
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Maxwell waved for Marconi

Only slightly more familiar than J. Willard Gibb, Maxwell gave the world the modern understanding of alternative currents and the physics of electromagnetism. nearly every facet of modern life is dependent to some degree on Maxwell's science. Who was this man?

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James Clerk Maxwell: a force for physics
Feature: December 2006

Born 175 years ago, James Clerk Maxwell carried out the first profound unification of nature's forces. Francis Everitt examines the immense contributions of the greatest mathematical physicist since Newton

Unless one is a poet, a war hero or a rock star, it is a mistake to die young. James Clerk Maxwell – unlike Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein, the two giants of physics with whom he stands – made that mistake, dying in 1879 at the age of just 48. Physicists may be familiar with Maxwell, but most non-scientists, when they switch on their colour TVs or use their mobile phones, are unlikely to realize that he made such technology possible. After all, in 1864 he gave us "Maxwell's equations" – voted by Physics World readers as their favourite equations of all time – from which radio waves were predicted.

Deserving recognition
Suppose Maxwell had lived one year beyond the biblical three score and ten. He would then have been alive on 12 December 1901, the day when Guglielmo Marconi, in St John's, Newfoundland, received the first transatlantic radio signal from a transmitter in Cornwall, UK, designed by Maxwell's former student Ambrose Fleming. Or consider relativity: mention it and everyone thinks of Einstein. Yet it was Maxwell in 1877 who introduced the term into physics, and had noticed well before then how the interpretation of electromagnetic induction was different depending on whether one considers a magnet approaching a wire loop or a loop approaching a magnet. It was from these "asymmetries that do not appear to be inherent in the phenomena" that Einstein began his work on special relativity.

Had he not died so young, Maxwell would almost certainly have developed special relativity a decade or more before Einstein. Moreover, it was through reading Maxwell's article "Ether" in the ninth edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica that Albert Michelson came to invent the interferometer – a new kind of instrument that he and Edward Morley used in 1887 to discover that the speed of light is the same in all directions.

A man for all science
So what impression of Maxwell would you have gained if you had met him in his prime, as a young Scottish undergraduate Donald MacAlister did in Cambridge in 1877? You would surely have been charmed, but perhaps also surprised to meet – as MacAlister put it – "a thorough old Scotch laird in ways and speech". As the proprietor of an 1800 acre Scottish estate, Maxwell had all the qualities of the better kind of Victorian country gentleman: cultivated, considerate of his tenants, active in local affairs, and an expert swimmer and horseman too.

Few would have guessed that this "Scotch laird", so disarmingly old-fashioned even in 1877, was a scientist whose writings remain astonishingly vibrant in 2006 and the greatest mathematical physicist since Newton. In addition to his work on electromagnetism, Maxwell also contributed to eight other scientific spheres: geometrical optics, kinetic theory, thermodynamics, viscoelasticity, bridge structures, control theory, dimensional analysis and the theory of Saturn's rings. He also worked on colour vision, producing the first ever colour photograph (see box "A colourful tale").

A taste of genius
Even if his achievements are somewhat overshadowed in the public's eye by those of Einstein, whose successes were marked by a great series of events last year, it is a measure of Maxwell's standing that 2006 – the 175th anniversary of this birth – has been dubbed Maxwell Year.

More at: http://physicsweb.org/articles/world/19/12/2/1
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post #2 of 16 (permalink) Old 12-13-2006, 07:41 PM
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So maybe this wasn't just a random name?





Joan was quizzical, studied pataphysical
Science in the home
Late nights all alone with her a test tube
Oh, oh, oh, oh
Maxwell Edison, majoring in medicine
Calls her on the phone
"Can I take you out to the pictures Jo-o-o-oan?"
But as she's getting ready to go
A knock comes on the door

Bang! Bang! Maxwell's silver hammer
came down upon her head
Clang! Clang! Maxwell's silver hammer
made sure that she was dead

Back in school again Maxwell plays the fool again
Teacher gets annoyed
Wishing to avoid and unpleasant scene-e-e-ene
She tells Max to stay when the class has gone away
So he waits behind
Writing fifty times "I must not be so-o-o-o
But when she turns her back on the boy
He creeps up from behind

Bang! Bang! Maxwell's silver hammer
came down upon her head
Clang! Clang! Maxwell's silver hammer
made sure that she was dead

P.C. thirty one said "we've caught a dirty one"
Maxwell stands alone
Painting testimonial pictures, oh, oh, oh, oh
Rose and Valerie screaming from the gallery
Say he must go free
The judge does not agree, and he tells them so-o-o-o
But, as the words are leaving his lips
A noise comes form behind

Bang! Bang! Maxwell's silver hammer
came down upon her head
Clang! Clang! Maxwell's silver hammer
made sure that he was dead
Silver hammer man

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post #3 of 16 (permalink) Old 12-13-2006, 07:45 PM
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Of course - he was a Scott !!!

What more do you want to know ??
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post #4 of 16 (permalink) Old 12-13-2006, 07:48 PM
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And not a single mention of his home-made instant coffee.
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post #5 of 16 (permalink) Old 12-13-2006, 07:50 PM
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Sir Maxwell House invented the caffeinated beverage craze.
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post #6 of 16 (permalink) Old 12-13-2006, 07:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zeitgeist
Sir Maxwell House invented the caffeinated beverage craze.
And the shoe phone.


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post #7 of 16 (permalink) Old 12-13-2006, 08:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Misfit
Of course - he was a Scott !!!

What more do you want to know ??

A true Scot would would not waste 't's ;-)
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post #8 of 16 (permalink) Old 12-13-2006, 08:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by deathrattle
A true Scot would would not waste 't's ;-)
Sticky KB :-)

ok ok - user error - one to many scotches
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post #9 of 16 (permalink) Old 12-13-2006, 08:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Misfit
Sticky KB :-)

ok ok - user error - one to many scotches
That cannot be right.

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post #10 of 16 (permalink) Old 12-13-2006, 08:35 PM
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Bowmore :-)

A good Islay
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