(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 wits manifested in 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 enjoyed quoting verses. His attainments 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 an 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 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 (which travel at the velocity of light) do exist. The 64-kilometer-wide Maxwell Ringlet in Saturn, the 270-kilometer-wide Maxwell Gap in the Rings of Saturn, as well as the 797-kilometer-wide Maxwell Montes in Venus, are dedicated to him.

12 Comments

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