James Clerk Maxwell: Life and science

Research paper by Philip L. Marston

Indexed on: 14 Mar '16Published on: 03 Dec '15Published in: Journal of Quantitative Spectroscopy & Radiative Transfer


Maxwell׳s life and science are presented with an account of the progression of Maxwell׳s research on electromagnetic theory. This is appropriate for the International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies, 2015. Maxwell׳s own confidence in his 1865 electromagnetic theory of light is examined, along with some of the difficulties he faced and the difficulties faced by some of his followers. Maxwell׳s interest in radiation pressure and electromagnetic stress is addressed, as well as subsequent developments. Some of Maxwell׳s other contributions to physics are discussed with an emphasis on the kinetic and molecular theory of gases. Maxwell׳s theistic perspective on science is illustrated, accompanied by examples of perspectives on Maxwell and his science provided by his peers and accounts of his interactions with those peers. Appendices examine the peer review of Maxwell׳s 1865 electromagnetic theory paper and the naming of the Maxwell Garnett effective media approximation and provide various supplemental perspectives. From Maxwell׳s publications and correspondence there is evidence he had a high regard for Michael Faraday. Examples of Maxwell׳s contributions to electromagnetic terminology are noted.

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