- Tapa blanda: 256 páginas
- Editor: John Wiley and Sons Ltd; Edición: 1 (13 de agosto de 2004)
- Idioma: Inglés
- ISBN-10: 0470861711
- ISBN-13: 978-0470861714
- Valoración media de los clientes: Sé el primero en opinar sobre este producto
- Clasificación en los más vendidos de Amazon: nº50.103 en Libros en idiomas extranjeros (Ver el Top 100 en Libros en idiomas extranjeros)
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The Man Who Changed Everything: The Life of James Clerk Maxwell (Inglés) Tapa blanda – 13 ago 2004
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Descripción del producto
"This is a wonderful, short biography that gives a vivid account of James Clerk Maxwell's life and work." (Materials Today, June 2004) "..an absorbing account of Maxwell's life and work" (Sunday Telegraph Review, 19th September 2004) "...provides the reader with the opportunity to understand Maxwell's contributions to modern science and technology." (The Mathematical Gazette, March 2005) "...a fascinating book about an inspiring man..." (Journal of Raman Spectroscopy, Vol.36, No.3, March 2005)
Reseña del editor
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.Ver Descripción del producto
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While working as a physicist Maxwell also functioned as a Scottish Laird, maintaining a large inherited estate, with all the worries that entailed. He was also active in a number of "outreach" activities in an effort to discover or awaken talent in physics among factory workers and other educationally disadvantaged groups.
Interestingly, everyone who knew Maxwell personally was deeply impressed by his warm, kind, open and helpful personality. Maxwell married late, and his wife is something of a mystery. What few reactions to her survive in the records of the day are almost uniformly negative. Yet she seems to have been a willing and effective lab partner in Maxwell's experimental program.
Maxwell's life was tragically short, and it is natural to wonder what he might have achieved had he been granted a few more decades of vigorous research and inquiry. In a way, Maxwell's career is somewhat parallel to that of Italian/American physicist Enrico Fermi, who was also a giant in both experiment and theory, and whose own life was cut off suddenly (also by cancer) when he was still near the peak of his powers.
I didn't know what a poet Maxwell was, although I remember seeing a couple of his poems in math journals. I think he wrote one on knots that is famous. It would be fun to get a book of his complete poems.
I also learned a great deal about other nineteenth century scientists and mathematicians and how they related to each other.
I hate to give this book four stars. After all, I really knew nothing about Maxwell except for his work in electromagnetism and that he was Christian and Scot; so I owe the author a great debt. (Oddly enough, I think I learned he was a Christian in a Kurt Vonnegut book.) What I just couldn't take about this book was that it seemed to be for children. It starts calling Maxwell "James" at the beginning, and the tone seems to be intended to draw a child into the story. It even seemed like a children's book at the beginning, but then sort of became an adult science biography, but continued some of the tone of a children's book. The author continued to call him "James" all the way through the book, even though every other adult was called by the family name or the full name. A few times I had to reread a section carefully because I was confused about who was being described. There was just something about the style that rubbed me the wrong way.
As a youth Maxwell corrected a small error in Decarte's calculations. ''He went on in later years to read the work of all pioneers in each area of science to which he turned his hand.'' (17)
This is in English, French, German, etc. Also read the Bible (in Greek), Shakespeare, etc., etc.. Wow! Where did he come from? ? ? And remembered and understood everything he read!
''By also studying philosophy he gained a deeper insight into the ''process'' of scientific discoveries than any other man of his time. Set alongside this knowledge was his own extraordinary originality and intuition. Together, theses components produced what the great American physicist Robert Millikan described as 'one of the most penetrating intellects of all time' ''. (17)
Chronology: principle events in Maxwell's life
Cast of characters: Maxwell's relations and close friends
A country boy 1831-1841
Pins and string: Edinburgh academy 1841-1847
Philosophy: Edinburgh university 1847-1850
Learning to juggle: Cambridge 1850-1854
Blue and yellow make pink: Cambridge 1854-1856
Saturn and statistics: Aberdeen 1856-1860
Spinning cells: London 1860-1862
The beautiful equations: London 1862-1865
The laird at home: glenair 1865-1871
The cavendish: Cambridge 1871-1879
Contains twenty-one black and white photographs on glossy paper.
Mahon has clear affection for Maxwell. Reprises the major phases of his life in a brief summary. Explains his scientific work in a easy to follow manner. Best explanation of displacement current I have read. Excellent description of the relationship of magnetic and electric fields which propagates light.
Covers Maxwell's kind, modest Christian personality. Comments that as a youth, probably knew the Bible better than the instructor. Served as an elder in his local church. Spoke against scientific determinism. Expressed the view that Christians should be careful in adjusting their Christianity to science, since science is always changing, unlike Christianity.
Fascinating, since he changed science more than Einstein or Newton. We now believe we live in a material world made from non-material energy. What a profound adjustment!
Maxwell's own reflection on his life: "What is done by what I call myself is, I feel, done by something greater than myself in me. The only desire which I can have is like David to serve own generation by the will of God, and then fall asleep".
P.G.Tait, fellow scientist and lifelong companion, wrote after Maxwell's death, ''I cannot adequately express in words the extent of the loss which his early death has inflicted not merely on his personal friends, on the university of Cambridge, on the whole scientific world, but also, and most especially, on the cause of common sense, of true science, and of religion itself, in theses days of much vain-babbling, pseudoscience, and materialism.''
Materialism, idea that only physical matter is possible, Maxwell totally rejected. He held a deep faith in the Bible and Christianity. Interesting that his development of electromagnetic science changed existence from material matter to invisible forces, that is 'non-material'.
''But men of his stamp never live in vain' and in one sense at least they cannot die. The spirit of Clerk Maxwell still lives with us in his imperishable writing, and will speak to the next generation.''
If Maxwell was/is so significant, why is he unknown? His modest humility? Mahon writes - ''During his lifetime Maxwell's main theories had yet to be experimentally verified and he knew from the history of science that even the greatest men had sometimes been wrong. It was not so much his modesty as his philosophical caution that held him back.'' (177)
Most of the scientific world did not accept this new non-material, non-mechanical reality. It required eight years of painstaking effort for Heinrich Hertz to validate Maxwell.
Einstein's work showed ''that Maxwell's equations were ''the'' basic laws of the physical world. . . . Another corollary was the celebrated equation E=mc2.'' (181)
Oliver Heaviside wrote - ''There are large souls and small souls. Such men live the best part of their lives after they are dead. Maxwell is one of these men. His soul will live and grow for long to come, as one of the bright stars of the past, whose light takes ages to reach us.'' (185)