Project #87182 - James Clerk Maxwell

Post an approximately 200 word reply to any colleagues' post and explore what were the strengths and weaknesses of that post?

Below is Students Post:

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James Clerk Maxwell had a huge impact on nineteenth century British, and even global, physics. The capstone of his work on electricity and magnetism, Treatise on Electricity and Magnetism published in 1873, shifted the field of electricity from a practical use of a "mysterious fluid" to that of a more accurate theoretical understanding. 

Maxwell's theory said that electromagnetism behaved less like a fluid at very fast oscillations and therefore could be used to prove the existence of the ether. In spite of denials from the practical men who worked with electricity daily and had only a very simplistic understanding of how it worked, Maxwell´s theory stated that "in very rapidly alternating currents, the electricity ran almost entirely along the surface of the wire rather than along the interior.¨ (167) With this information, Maxwell wanted to prove that electromagnetism traveled through ether as a wave rather than only as a fluid along a particular wire because doing so not only widened areas of inquiry but also helped to explain much about the new sciences that were cropping up (thermodynamics and energy). Eventually, Hertz found evidence that in conditions of rapid alternating current electromagnetism did behave like a wave, which seemed to vindicate Maxwell. Although today we no longer hold to the view of the ether, Maxwell’s theory still brought about an understanding of the wave-like behavior of electromagnetism which is essential to our modern understanding of this field.

Another area of Maxwell's influence is perhaps less known but definitely foundational to our current practice of physics. Maxwell's belief in the necessity of precision measurements and standardized units of measurements became one of the major reasons that the Cavendish Laboratory, of which he was the first Professor, became one of the most eminent experimental laboratories in the world. By standardizing units and training new physicists in precise measurements and experiments, Maxwell ensured that future knowledge could be imparted as accurately as possible; he also began a trend that changed how physics was both taught and practiced around the world. Much of the process of experimentation as well as the standardization of units are still in use today.

Subject Science
Due By (Pacific Time) 10/16/2015 11:00 pm
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