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Scotland’s Forgotten
Einstein James Clerk Maxwell
― CoMPIlEd By
ARVIN dEVERS
Kilmarnock, Scotland
Maxwell was voted the third greatest
physicist of all time behind only
Newton and Einstein.

“The work of James Clerk Maxwell
changed the world forever.” —Albert Einstein
“Maxwell is the unsung hero of British science.” —Stephen Hawking, Physicist
James Clerk Maxwell is one of our greatest scientists, and without him, we may not
have had x-rays, radar, radio, or color photography. However, while scientists Albert
Einstein and Isaac Newton are household names, Maxwell is barely known to the
general public.

J ames Clerk Maxwell was born
on July 13, 1831, at 14 India
Street in Edinburgh. As a child,
James was always asking his father
how things worked. If he was not
satisfied with the first answer, he
would ask his dad, “But what’s the
particular go of it?” Before James
turned three, his mother Frances in a
letter to her sister Jane described him
as happy and so curious about the
world. His nurse Maggy gave him a
tin plate to play with and he called
his mother and father to come and
see how he had brought the sun into
the house by reflecting its image off
the plate onto a wall.

James’ mother died when he was
only eight years old from stomach
cancer. After a visit from his Aunt
Jane, he was sent to live in Edinburgh
so that he could attend the Edinburgh
Academy. By the time he left for
Cambridge at age 19, he had already
http://www/bbc.co.uk/timelines/zyp34j6 7
read more books than most educated
people had read in a lifetime.

our years later he graduated with
first-class honors in mathematics
and won a prize for his research on
F the rings around Saturn. It was not
until the Voyager space probe reached
Saturn that his theories were proven
correct. Albert Einstein said,
“One scientific epoch ended and
another began with
James Clerk Maxwell.”
His major research was on elec-
tricity and magnetism. From his ex-
periments, he concluded that light
was another type of electromagnetic
wave and believed that electromag-
netic waves with other wavelengths
existed as well. Radio, television,
radar, and satellite communica-
tions all have their origins in his
theories. His work is said to have
had the greatest influence on 20th
century physics and paved the way
for Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. 7
axwell made advances in op-
tics and color vision. He was
awarded the Rumford Medal by the
M NATIONS • 11