from The Open University
Alternatively you can skip the navigation by pressing 'Enter'.
Secret History Of... Camberwell GveTuesday, 28th April 2015 20:00 - BBC FourA long journey from respectability, to despair, and back again - in the time it takes to walk along a street Read more: The Secret History Of Our Streets - Camberwell Grove
Secret History Of... Deptford High StAvailable until Friday, 22nd May 2015 03:00How did the "Oxford Street of South London" come to be one of the poorest shopping streets in modern London? Read more: The Secret History Of Our Streets - Deptford High Street
Secret History Of... Deptford High StAvailable until Friday, 22nd May 2015 03:00
Thinking Allowed: The Ethnography Award 'Shortlist' 2015Available until Friday, 15th April 2016 10:30
A History of Ideas - Descartes Cogito Ergo SumAvailable until Thursday, 14th April 2016 08:30
Opinion polls in a nutshellProfessor Kevin McKonway investigates opinion polls in these short YouTube videos. Watch now: Opinion polls in a nutshell
Take the photographic memory testCan you capture scenes just by looking at them? Find out with our photographic memory test. Launch now: Take the photographic memory test
Eating to win: Activity, diet and weight controlWhat should we eat before and after exercise? This free course, Eating to win: activity, diet and... Try: Eating to win: Activity, diet and weight control now
English: skills for learning[BETA] This course is for anybody who is thinking of studying for a university degree and would... Try: English: skills for learning now
James Clerk Maxwell
James Clerk Maxwell (1831-1879) is arguably the father of electromagnetism, and...
James Clerk Maxwell (1831-1879) is arguably the father of electromagnetism, and unarguably one of the greatest physicists ever. Einstein called Maxwell's equations 'the most important event in physics since Newton's time, not only because of their wealth of content, but also because they form a pattern for a new type of law'. This unit will examine Maxwell's greatest triumph, the prediction that electromagnetic waves can propagate vast distances through empty space and the realisation that light is itself an electromagnetic wave.
By the end of this unit you should be able to:
- explain the meaning of the emboldened terms and symbols, and use them appropriately;
- state the equation of continuity and use it in simple problems;
- state the conditions under which Ampère's law is true and explain why it does not apply more generally;
- state the Ampère–Maxwell law and explain why it has a greater domain of validity than Ampère's law;
- state and name the differential versions of Maxwell's four laws of electromagnetism;
- recall the properties of linearly polarised plane monochromatic electromagnetic waves in empty space, including their transverse nature, speed and energy flux.
- Current section: Introduction
- Learning outcomes
- 1 Maxwell's greatest triumph
- 2 The equation of continuity
- 3 The Ampère–Maxwell law
- 4 Maxwell's equations
- 5 Let there be light!
- 6 Appendix: a note on displacement current density
- 7 Unit summary
James Clerk Maxwell
James Clerk Maxwell produced a unified theory of the electromagnetic field and used it to show that light is a type of electromagnetic wave. This prediction dates from the early 1860s when Maxwell was at King's College, London. Shortly afterwards Maxwell decided to retire to his family estate in Galloway in order to concentrate on research, unhindered by other duties. He was lured out of retirement in 1871, when he became the first professor of experimental physics in the Cavendish Laboratory, Cambridge. Given Maxwell's present status as one of the greatest of all physicists, it is astonishing to learn that he was the third choice for this job. Incidentally, Clerk Maxwell (without a hyphen) is a surname; Maxwell's father, John Clerk, simply appended ‘Maxwell’ to his own name in order to smooth a legal transaction.
This unit is from our archive and it is an adapted extract from Topics in the history of mathematics (STM359) which is no longer in presentation. If you wish to study formally at The Open University, you may wish to explore the courses we offer in this.