The Man Who Changed Everything: The Life of James Clerk Maxwell

  • Book
  • 226 pages
  • Level: high school and above

This is a biography of James Clerk Maxwell, written by Basil Mahon and published in 2003 by Wiley. Maxwell was one of the more prominent figures in science history, a key figure in the development of the physics of electricity and magnetism and light who also was the first to work out the structure of the rings of Saturn. Maxwell was also a man of Faith: Mahon writes that “his faith was the guiding principle of his life”. A contemporary wrote of Maxwell that he was “one of the best men I have ever met, and a greater merit than his scientific attainments is his being, so far as human judgment can discern, a most perfect example of a Christian gentleman”.

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From the dust jacket of The Man Who Changed Everything:

James Clerk Maxwell (1831- 1879) changed our perception of reality and laid the foundations for many of the scientific and technological advances of the twentieth century. An unassuming and modest man, who simply wanted to understand how the world around him worked, he made fundamental contributions to every aspect of physical science. By discovering the nature of electromagnetic waves, he made possible the development of our great communications networks: television, radio, radar and the mobile telephone. He took the first colour photograph and introduced the system of thought experiments, later used by Einstein. His influence across all areas of physical science has been enormous. Often his ideas were ahead of his time and we had to wait many years before others confirmed his theories.

Leading scientists have always recognised Maxwell as a giant figure and he holds a unique position among them, inspiring both wonder and affection. In life, he was a blend of opposites – a serious man who saw fun everywhere, a hopeless teacher who inspired students, a shy man who was the hub of any gathering where he felt at ease.This sympathetic biography by a lifelong admirer of his work helps to share the inspirational nature of his life and achievements with a wider public..

 

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