Biography of James Clerk Maxwell
JAMES CLERK MAXWELL
Scottish physicist 1831-1879
James Clerk Maxwell was not only one of the most brilliant intellects ever to walk the earth, he was also one of the most humble and gracious men who ever lived. He made contributions to many branches of science including astronomy, pure math, civil engineering, chemistry, anatomy, physics, and optics. He is most famous for his equations about the relationship between electricity and magnetism. “Maxwell’s Equations” are the foundation of the science of electromagnetism. Maxwell’s mind was capable of intuitive leaps of imagination, not to been seen again until Einstein came along. Einstein reportedly kept a picture of Maxwell on the wall in his office, saying he (Einstein) was just building on the foundation that Maxwell had made. Sadly, Einstein did not see Maxwell as a role model in other important aspects of life. Einstein was selfish and unfaithful to his family, whereas Maxwell was the model of selflessness and faithfulness. People who knew Maxwell said that his personal qualities were just as impressive as his understanding of science.
As far as I know, this is the only biography of Maxwell written for young readers (upper elementary through high school). The illustrations that appear in this text are a mix of stuff taken from all over the Internet, and I am not sure of the copyright status of many of them. Because I am offering this biography as a free download, I am intending this to be “fair use” for educational purposes.
The book I used the most for my research was Basil Mahon’s “The Man Who Changed Everything.” I am especially grateful to Basil for explaining the famous equations in layman’s terms.
This biography can be used alongside many standard science experiments and activities, and can easily be turned into a whole unit study. I hope to eventually post a list of ideas and resources for a unit study, but I thought I would go ahead and post this now in case I never get around to the unit study page. At least the bio is available.