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James Clerk Maxwell 1831 – 1879 BSHM Gresham Lecture 31 st October 2012 Raymond Flood Gresham Professor of Geometry.

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Presentation on theme: "James Clerk Maxwell 1831 – 1879 BSHM Gresham Lecture 31 st October 2012 Raymond Flood Gresham Professor of Geometry."— Presentation transcript:

1 James Clerk Maxwell 1831 – 1879 BSHM Gresham Lecture 31 st October 2012 Raymond Flood Gresham Professor of Geometry

2 Key dates in the life of James Clerk Maxwell DATEEVENT 1831Born at 14 India Street, Edinburgh and grew up at Glenlair Edinburgh Academy Edinburgh University 1850 – 1856Cambridge University Marischal College, Aberdeen King’s College, London Glenlair 1871 – 1879Cambridge University

3 James with his mother, Frances, in about 1834 James’ father, John, in about 1850

4 Edinburgh Academy, 1840

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6 Edinburgh University Library

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8 Stokes theorem: Question 8 in the 1854 Smith’s prize examination paper in which Maxwell shared first prize with E.J. Routh

9 Marischal College, Aberdeen.

10 Maxwell, Katherine and Toby in 1869

11 Inaugural lecture, King’s College 1860 “In this class I hope you will learn not merely results, or formulae applicable to cases that may possibly occur in our practice afterwards, but the principles on which those formulae depend, and without which the formulae are mere mental rubbish. I know the tendency of the human mind is to do anything rather than think. But mental labour is not thought, and those who have with labour acquired the habit of application, often find it much easier to get up a formula than to master a principle”

12 Glenlair, family home of the Maxwells in about 1884

13 Newton’s memorial in Westminster Abbey James Clerk Maxwell buried with his parents and wife in Parton Churchyard near Glenlair

14 There is scarcely a single topic that he touched upon that he did not change almost beyond recognition Charles Coulson Saturn’s rings Colour vision Kinetic Theory Electromagnetism

15 Saturn’s rings

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21 Colour Vision

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23 On the theory of compound colours in 1860

24 Tartan Ribbon

25 Kinetic Theory of Gases Rudolf Clausius

26 If you go at 17 miles per minute and take a totally new course 1,700,000,000 times a second, where will you be in an hour Letter from Maxwell to Tait

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29 Ludwig Boltzmann

30 Oersted’s experiment Michael Faraday Electromagnetism

31 Faraday delivering a Christmas Lecture at the Royal institution in 1856 Iron filings scattered on paper over a magnet show the lines of force

32 Model of molecular vortices and electric particles

33 we can scarcely avoid the inference that light consists in the transverse undulations of the same medium which is the cause of electric and magnetic phenomena

34 Einstein on Maxwell Since Maxwell’s time, physical reality has been thought of as represented by continuous fields, and not capable of any mechanical interpretation. This change in the conception of reality is the most profound and the most fruitful that physics has experienced since the time of Newton

35 Maxwell’s sense of fun is shown in this poem to Thomson’s galvanometer (an instrument for measuring current)

36 Lectures At the Museum of London Ghosts of Departed Quantities: Calculus and its Limits Tuesday 25 September 2012 Polynomials and their Roots Tuesday 6 November 2012 From One to Many Geometries Tuesday 11 December 2012 The Queen of Mathematics Tuesday 22 January 2013 Are Averages Typical? Tuesday 19 February 2013 Modelling the World Tuesday 19 March 2013


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