James Clerk Maxwell
(1831-1879)

Died aged c. 48

James Clerk Maxwell FRS FRSE (13 June 1831 – 5 November 1879) was a Scottish scientist in the field of mathematical physics. His most notable achievement was to formulate the classical theory of electromagnetic radiation, bringing together for the first time electricity, magnetism, and light as manifestations of the same phenomenon. Maxwell's equations for electromagnetism have been called the "second great unification in physics" after the first one realised by Isaac Newton. With the publication of A Dynamical Theory of the Electromagnetic Field in 1865, Maxwell demonstrated that electric and magnetic fields travel through space as waves moving at the speed of light. Maxwell proposed that light is an undulation in the same medium that is the cause of electric and magnetic phenomena. The unification of light and electrical phenomena led to the prediction of the existence of radio waves. Maxwell helped develop the Maxwell–Boltzmann distribution, a statistical means of describing aspects of the kinetic theory of gases. He is also known for presenting the first durable colour photograph in 1861 and for his foundational work on analysing the rigidity of rod-and-joint frameworks (trusses) like those in many bridges. His discoveries helped usher in the era of modern physics, laying the foundation for such fields as special relativity and quantum mechanics. Many physicists regard Maxwell as the 19th-century scientist having the greatest influence on 20th-century physics. His contributions to the science are considered by many to be of the same magnitude as those of Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein. In the millennium poll—a survey of the 100 most prominent physicists—Maxwell was voted the third greatest physicist of all time, behind only Newton and Einstein. On the centenary of Maxwell's birthday, Einstein described Maxwell's work as the "most profound and the most fruitful that physics has experienced since the time of Newton".

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Commemorated on 6 plaques

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James Clerk Maxwell the eminent physicist lived in this house from 1856 to 1860 whilst he was Professor of Natural Philosophy at the University of Aberdeen

131 Union Street, Back Wynd Steps, Aberdeen, United Kingdom where they lived

Cavendish Laboratory 1874-1974 Established by the Duke of Devonshire and extended by Lord Rayleigh (1908) and Lord Austin (1940), the Cavendish Laboratory housed the Department of Physics from the time of the first Cavendish Professor, James Clerk Maxwell, until its move to new laboratories in West Cambridge

Free School Lane, Cambridge, United Kingdom where they was

James Clerk Maxwell FRS King's College London Professor of Natural Philosophy 1860-65

King's College London, Strand, WC2R 2LS, London, United Kingdom where they was Professor of Natural Philosophy

James Clerk Maxwell (1831-1879) physicist lived here

16 Palace Gardens Terrace, Kensington, W8, London, United Kingdom where they lived

James Clerk Maxwell Natural Philosopher Born here 13 June 1831

14 India Street, Edinburgh, United Kingdom where they was born (1831)

[Mathematical equations in memory of James Clerk Maxwell]

, Edinburgh, United Kingdom where they worked near