James Clerk Maxwell

by Meredith Lona


James Clerk Maxwell was born June 13, 1831 in Edinburgh Scotland.

He was very intellectual at a young age; In his adolescence years he had one of his geometry papers presented at the Royal Society of Edinburgh.

At age 16, he enrolled at the University Of Edinburgh studying optics and color research.

After studying there for three years, he then proceeded to Cambridge University's Trinity College where he graduated in 1854.


Despite being an excellent mathematician Maxwell could never be described as a great lecturer.James encountered problems when applying for the Chair of Natural Philosophy at Edinburgh where he was rejected in favor of his friend Peter Tait.

Awards received

1857 Adams Prize

1860 Rumford Medal of Royal Society

1871 Honorary Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge University

1878 Volta Medal, Doctor of Physical Science

Most influential scientist

James Clerk Maxwell was one of the greatest scientists who have ever lived. To him we owe the most significant discovery, the theory of electromagnetism. He is the father of modern physics. He also made fundamental contributions to mathematics, astronomy and engineering.

So much of our technology in the world today comes from his grasp of basic principles of the universe. Wide ranging developments in the field of electricity and electronics, including the radio, television, radar and communications, came from Maxwell's discovery - which was a fundamental change in concept that departed from Newton's view and was to influence greatly the modern scientific and industrial revolution.