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Early life

Maxwell was an intensely curious and talented student. At the age of fourteen, he made his first contribution to mathematics in the study of oval curves, and actually published a paper on the topic. At age fifteen or sixteen he was admitted to the University of Edinburgh.

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In , he transferred to Trinity College, Cambridge University in England and four years later placed second in the difficult Tripos exam. He then received a fellowship to Cambridge, became a tutor himself for a while, and then, in , became a professor at Marischal College in Aberdeen, Scotland. Using mathematics, not a telescope, he theorized that the rings could not be solid, as was then widely believed, but made of many particles all orbiting the planet.

Unfortunately, just four years after joining Marischal College, Maxwell lost his professorship due to a reorganization of the faculty. Most importantly however, it was during the s that Maxwell began formulating the equations that are the foundation of electromagnetic theory. This work is considered by many to be one of the greatest intellectual achievements of all time. Initially Maxwell wrote a set of twenty equations, which were incomprehensible to most of his contemporaries.

A theme that runs through the book is how little recognition Maxwell received for his work, in comparison with Einstein, Newton, and Darwin.

James Clerk Maxwell - Wikipedia

He wrote papers and books of a scientific nature but was a humble person who did not seek publicity. He was busy with many things such as managing his large Scottish estate, and contributing to the religious and educational life of his community. His energetic life came to an early end at age forty eight because of stomach cancer. By all accounts he lead a well-ordered, busy life that Mahon portrays in a young-adult, always-admiring style that I felt lacked the gravitas of a major biography.

On the other hand the Notes at the end of the book were an added benefit for the serious science reader. I rated it four stars for presenting what I was looking for: clear definition of Maxwell's powerful impact on the evolution of science. The great genius, Maxwell, still doesn't get his due! Maxwell is wellknown to students of science, but not quite a fashionable name to be dropped in social circles. Though the book is thoroughly enjoyable finished reading it in 3 suitings, great!

Let somebody write a bestseller on Maxwell! A neat insight on the life of Sir James Maxwell, the scientist who revolutionized the way we observe the physical world with his creative interpretations and imaginative thinking. This book focuses on two cornerstones of James life: His scientific personality, as well as his personal life as a real gentleman with a loving personality and utmost kindness.

I recommend it to everyone. Oct 08, Jack rated it it was amazing Shelves: Short little book but very engaging. I was very fascinated with the mechanical analogy that Maxwell used to visualize electromagnetic waves. Wish they had taught me that in my freshman physics classes. Feb 24, Curtis Penner rated it liked it. Mostly the book was physically difficult to read. Wiley did not do the reader any favor in the manner in which it was bound. Beyond that, it is a fair book.

Mar 10, Jimbob rated it it was amazing Shelves: science-biog.

Story of James C Maxwell - Short Biography for kids

Excellent short biography. It discusses Maxwell's large range of interests in both the maths and physics in sufficient detail for me to understand them. I will read this again. Jan 07, Nathan rated it really liked it.

The Man Who Changed Everything: The Life of James Clerk Maxwell

Great biography of an amazing scientist. Approachable, but also described Maxwell's discoveries and scientific thought process in a satisfying manner. Feb 20, Edu rated it it was amazing. A great portrait of the probably most influential physicist of the 19th century. Nov 06, Hemhek Song rated it really liked it Shelves: biography. Presents a deep perspective on Maxwell's legacy. Apr 19, Jenny Hunt rated it really liked it.

Feb 22, Justin Bintz rated it it was amazing. My interest was sparked about James Clerk Maxwell from a passage in the Daemon haunted World by Carl Sagan and I couldn't resist learning more about the father of the modern age of science. Basil not only delivered comprehensive information about all of the pivotal life events of James but delved deeper into the equations and theorems Maxwell worked on than I had expected.

It prompted me to research and learn more about the work he did than if he had just glazed over them. I believe this to be a My interest was sparked about James Clerk Maxwell from a passage in the Daemon haunted World by Carl Sagan and I couldn't resist learning more about the father of the modern age of science. I believe this to be an ode to Maxwell's way of learning and teaching. He thoroughly believed you have to get your hands dirty, understand the path that lead to the final elegant equation or theorem or you are merely regurgitating rubbish.

I've been inspired through Basil's work to further investigate the Cavendish research lab Maxwell designed and the discovery of the electron.

Oct 01, Dan Cohen rated it liked it Shelves: science-and-maths , history , biography. A solid and enjoyable introductory biography of a strangely neglected great scientist. It's an easy read and it gets the balance right between the human and scientific sides of its' subject. I wouldn't say it was the most exciting book to read and the author's style is not particularly interesting, hence just 3 stars, but I would recommend the book because of how important the subject was and it helps that he seems to have been such a decent individual.

For the scientific minds, this book is an interesting journey into the life and mind of James Clerk Maxwell, the man who unified electricity, light and magnetism into ONE single equation and change everything! You won't get the details of the maths though, if that is what you wanted to know.

Oct 05, Ali rated it it was ok. Read this book for English. Found it incredibly boring. But it's short. And Maxwell truly did have an extraordinary mind, and is a perfect example of a Maker. And if you don't take my English class you probably have no idea what I'm talking about. Anyway, read this book if you're into science, particularly electromagnetism.

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But if you're bored by that kind of thing, I suggest not reading this one. Jul 22, Adam rated it liked it Shelves: physics , memoir , reviewed. I know it's an autobiography, but it's got more physics in it than the general reader would like. Some of the author's descriptions are very hard to follow because he often writes in a convoluted manner.

He also has a superfluous number of footnotes, where information that would be absolutely fine and helpful in the main text is not present there, so you have to waste time referring to them. Other than that you'll learn just how much more important Maxwell ought to be to us all. Nov 09, Laura Anne rated it really liked it. Should have a name as recognizable as Einstein or Newton. Most of the book is easy to understand.

Almost all of our current technologies rests on an understanding of the electro magnetic spectrum - telephones, internet, television, radio, and on and on. The natural curiosity of people in an earlier time is amazing.

I guess the masses mostly sit around getting their daily dose of media these days instead. May 12, Joseph rated it really liked it. A concise history of the works and influence of James Clerk Maxwell. Without being overly scientific it puts into context the huge leaps made by Maxwell.

At the same time it is a biography, and it is a little to enamoured of Maxwell to be a real look at his life. Too much of a love in. There is definitely something to his relationships which is glossed over.


The Man Who Changed Everything: The Life of James Clerk Maxwell

Maybe someone else will write a psychological biography. His education was then overseen by his father and his father's sister-in-law Jane, both of whom played pivotal roles in his life. Little is known about the young man hired to instruct Maxwell, except that he treated the younger boy harshly, chiding him for being slow and wayward. James' father took him to Robert Davidson 's demonstration of electric propulsion and magnetic force on February 12, , an experience with profound implications for the boy.