James Clerk Maxwell

1831-79

PHYSICIST

James Clerk Maxwell, who was born at no. 14 India Street, Edinburgh, is generally regarded as one of the greatest physicists the world has ever seen. Einstein placed on record his view that the Scot's work resulted in the most profound change in the conception of reality in physics since the time of Newton.
Maxwell's researches united electricity and magnetism into the concept of the electro-magnetic field. He died relatively young, and indeed some of the theories he advanced in physics were only conclusively proved long after his death. For example, he did not live to see proved in the laboratory his theory that when a charged particle is accelerated, the radiation produced has the same velocity as that of light: it is a unification that remains one of the greatest landmarks in the whole of science. It paved the way for Einstein's special theory of relativity. Maxwell's ideas also ushered in the other major innovation of twentieth-century physics, the quantum theory.
James Clerk Maxwell
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