Scotlands History

James Clerk Maxwell (1831-1879)

The Scots mathematician and physicist James Clerk Maxwell discovered electromagnetism. He showed that electric and magnetic fields travel through space in waves at the speed of light.

James Clerk Maxwell was born in Edinburgh on 13 June 1831. He went to school at Edinburgh Academy then attended Cambridge University. At 25 years old, James Clerk Maxwell became Professor of Physics at Marischal College, Aberdeen. He later held positions at King's College, London, and at Cambridge.

The work of James Clerk Maxwell changed the world forever.

Albert Einstein

James Clerk Maxwell’s published works include ‘On Physical Lines of Force’, ‘A Treatise on Electricity and Magnetism’ and ‘Illustrations of the Dynamical Theory of Gases’. His work was to have a profound impact on later scientists.

The discoveries that James Clerk Maxwell made influenced modern science and led to the development of many of today’s technologies including television, radio and radar.

A statue of James Clerk Maxwell was unveiled in Edinburgh on 25th November 2008.

  • Black and white engraving of a middle-aged man with curly hair and beard

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