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Maxwell, J. C. Maxwell, James Clerk Maxwell(noun)
Scottish physicist whose equations unified electricity and magnetism and who recognized the electromagnetic nature of light (1831-1879)
James Clerk Maxwell
James Clerk Maxwell FRS FRSE was a Scottish theoretical physicist. His most prominent achievement was formulating a set of equations that united previously unrelated observations, experiments, and equations of electricity, magnetism, and optics into a consistent theory. His theory of classical electromagnetism demonstrates that electricity, magnetism and light are all manifestations of the same phenomenon, namely the electromagnetic field. Maxwell's achievements concerning 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 was in fact undulations 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 also helped develop the Maxwell–Boltzmann distribution, which is 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 the rigidity of rod-and-joint frameworks like those in many bridges.
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