(June 13, 1831 – November 5, 1879)

Long before Maxwell became the first Cavendish Professor of Physics at Cambridge, another great scientist, William Thomson Kelvin, hinted that the youngster has great imagining ability. He was right. Maxwell’s brilliance manifested in all his works. From exploring the kinetic theory of gases to showcasing the first color photography, his scopes were vast and all-encompassing. He was also an avid biblical scholar who loved quoting verses. His accomplishments are many; and so are the things named after him. But the jewel on his crown is his Theory of Electromagnetic Radiation. With that, he unified the magnetic, optical, and electrical phenomena in one easy-to-comprehend equation. This electromagnetic formulation remains the most important unification of physics laws since the days of Isaac Newton. It anchors many modern technologies. Decades later, Maxwell’s research findings would boost the Special Relativity. Not only did a grateful Albert Einstein admire him (alongside Isaac Newton and Michael Faraday), most scientists rank him among the best of the great researchers. That is no mean feat for a man who lived less than 50 years. He died at 48 from abdominal cancer: the same malady which claimed his mother 40 years earlier. Apart from his indispensable equation, Maxwell is remembered as the first person to analyze the Control Theory; as well as to theorize that various electromagnetic radiations (traveling at the velocity of light) exist. The Maxwell Montes, which is a Venusian mountain massif, is named after him. The same applies to the Maxwell Gap in the Rings of Saturn.

12 Comments

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