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The Man Who Changed Everything: The Life of…
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The Man Who Changed Everything: The Life of James Clerk Maxwell (udgave 2004)

af Basil Mahon (Forfatter)

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2203120,835 (3.88)Ingen
This is the first biography in twenty years of James Clerk Maxwell, one of the greatest scientists of our time and yet a man relatively unknown to the wider public. Approaching science with a freshness unbound by convention or previous expectations, he produced some of the most original scientific thinking of the nineteenth century -- and his discoveries went on to shape the twentieth century.… (mere)
Medlem:ortgard
Titel:The Man Who Changed Everything: The Life of James Clerk Maxwell
Forfattere:Basil Mahon (Forfatter)
Info:Wiley (2004), Edition: 1, 256 pages
Samlinger:Dit bibliotek
Vurdering:*****
Nøgleord:Ingen

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The Man Who Changed Everything: The Life of James Clerk Maxwell af Basil Mahon

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The most important physicist, I didn't really know anything about.

Times Literary Supplement editorial of 1925, preserved in Trinity College Library, sums it up by saying that Maxwell was ‘to physicists, easily the most magical figure of the nineteenth century’.

CAST OF CHARACTERS from the ebook
Maxwell’s relations and close friends


Blackburn, Hugh: Professor of Mathematics at Glasgow University, husband of Jemima.
Blackburn, Jemima (née Wedderburn): James’ cousin, daughter of Isabella Wedderburn
Butler, Henry Montagu: student friend at Cambridge, afterwards Headmaster of Harrow School and, later, Master of Trinity College, Cambridge
Campbell, Lewis: schoolfriend, afterwards Professor of Greek at St Andrews University
Campbell, Robert: younger brother of Lewis
Cay, Charles Hope: James’ cousin, son of Robert
Cay, Jane: James’ aunt, younger sister of Frances Clerk Maxwell
Cay, John: James’ uncle, elder brother of Frances Clerk Maxwell
Cay, Robert: James’ uncle, younger brother of Frances Clerk Maxwell
Cay, William Dyce: James’ cousin, son of Robert
Clerk, Sir George: James’ uncle, elder brother of John Clerk Maxwell
Clerk Maxwell, Frances (née Cay): James’ mother
Clerk Maxwell, John: James’ father
Clerk Maxwell, Katherine Mary (née Dewar): James’ wife
Dewar, Daniel: James’ father-in-law, Principal of Marischal College, Aberdeen
Dunn, Elizabeth (Lizzie) (née Cay): James’ cousin, daughter of Robert Cay
Forbes, James: friend and mentor, Professor of Natural Philosophy at Edinburgh University, afterwards Principal of St Andrew’s University
Hort, Fenton John Anthony: student friend at Cambridge, afterwards a professor at Cambridge
Litchfield, Richard Buckley: student friend at Cambridge, afterwards Secretary of the London Working Men’s College
Mackenzie, Colin: James’ cousin once removed, son of Janet Mackenzie
Mackenzie, Janet (née Wedderburn): James’ cousin, daughter of Isabella Wedderburn
Monro, Cecil James: student friend at Cambridge, afterwards a frequent correspondent with James, particularly on colour vision
Pomeroy, Robert Henry: student friend at Cambridge who joined the Indian Civil Service and died in his 20s during the Indian Mutiny
Tait, Peter Guthrie: schoolfriend, afterwards Professor of Natural Philosophy at Edinburgh University
Thomson, William, later Baron Kelvin of Largs: friend (and mentor in early stages of James’ career), Professor of Natural Philosophy at Glasgow University
Wedderburn, Isabella (née Clerk): James’ aunt, younger sister of John Clerk Maxwell
Wedderburn, James: James’ uncle by marriage, husband of Isabella

Note: The list shows those of Maxwell’s relations and close friends who are mentioned in the narrative, and two more who are included to explain relationships. His work colleagues and associates are not listed here, apart from Forbes, Tait and Thomson.
( )
  kevn57 | Dec 8, 2021 |
James Clerk Maxwell (Clerk being the true family name as the book points out) lived an exceptional life. I found this book to have a fine balance of his theoretical accomplishments, his personal history, and his character. I was surprised to learn about his influence over vast tracts of physics, not only electromagnetic theory.

After reading this book, I admire many things about JCM. First, his philosophy of science is one I believe in deeply. He believed in being honest in science -- acknowledging the struggle and false attempts instead of presenting only what's in the display case. He believed in empowering people to do it themselves and learn from experience rather than venerate those special people who have done it.

He was a believer in letting the subconscious work out details in time that the conscious mind could not. I find myself doing the same and it was exciting to read his own account of this phenomenon. In fact, many of his theories developed over many years as they distilled somewhere in his mind. I imagine his physical fitness also played a role in his ability to let go of thoughts and let them work themselves out.

He was also funny!... Maybe not in a way that makes you roll over and cry, but in an old-timey way that makes you chuckle. He even made a comment about his colleagues at one point early in his career that they didn't enjoy humor, but he put this criticism aside to do the work he loved. How can you not be endeared by a man who called a friend "the doughty knight of Baltimore"?

Most of all I respect JCM because he valued friendship and kinship with others. He viewed his work as advancing all people and that his life would disperse into minds across time to serve them. What a legacy we are lucky enough to receive -- because he ultimately believed in kinship, present and future. It inspires us to think not of ourselves but of our connected stories and to act in kinship as well.

Although the points above were clearly made in the book and relate to his spiritual beliefs, the book did not go in depth on this. His views of God and creation would be very interesting to learn about since it influenced him a great deal. Perhaps I can find this in his writings somewhere.

If you want to be inspired, learn more about a great scientist and his thought process and way of life, I highly recommend this book. ( )
  danrk | Jan 12, 2016 |
chuck out by A & N.
  velvetink | Mar 31, 2013 |
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This is the first biography in twenty years of James Clerk Maxwell, one of the greatest scientists of our time and yet a man relatively unknown to the wider public. Approaching science with a freshness unbound by convention or previous expectations, he produced some of the most original scientific thinking of the nineteenth century -- and his discoveries went on to shape the twentieth century.

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