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James Clerk Maxwell
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Scientist
    (June 13, 1831-November 5, 1879)
    Born in Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom
    Wrote 'A Treatise on Electricity and Magnetism' (1873)
    Developed a series of equations describing how electric and magnetic fields are generated and altered by each other
    Demonstrated that electricity and magnetism are manifestations of a single electromagnetic field
    Demonstrated that electric and magnetic fields propagate through space at the speed of light
    Mathematically determined that the rings of Saturn had to be composed of numerous small particles each independently orbiting the planet (1859)
    Also contributed to the kinetic theory of gases and the study of color perception
    When Marischal College and King's College merged to form the University of Aberdeen, he was laid off as redundant, since there was no need for two Professors of Natural Philosophy (1860).
    The Maxwell's Equations governing electromagnetism were actually put into their modern form by Oliver Heaviside, who found a way to simplify Maxwell's work down to four partial differential equations.
    He claimed that the self-similarity of molecules (i.e., one water molecule is identical to any other one) somehow disproved evolution.
    At age fourteen, he wrote a scientific paper that was presented to the Royal Society of Edinburgh.
    His work on the rings of Saturn was described by the Astronomer Royal as 'one of the most remarkable applications of mathematics to physics that I have ever seen.' (And it was proven by observation during the Voyager flyby.)
    His work on electromagnetism paved the way for radio, radar and television.
    Albert Einstein said that his work was 'the most profound and the most fruitful that physics has experienced since the time of Newton.'
    Carl Sagan said, 'Maxwell's equations have had a greater impact on human history than any ten presidents.'

Credit: C. Fishel


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