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Please explore our website to find out more about this great Scottish physicist
and the Foundation which bears his name.

We have a wealth of information in the form of articles, images, video, audio and other documents available in our new Resources section.

You can find us in Edinburgh, in the house of James Clerk Maxwell’s birth, and here on-line.
Let us share our enthusiasm with you!

Spring 2015 Newsletter

The James Clerk Maxwell Young Writer's Prize

Previous Newsletters are available from the archive


 News: Inspiring Brilliance : Celebrating Maxwell’s Genius and Legacy 
 Full day conference, 9th November 2015, The Royal Society of Edinburgh

On the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the publication in 1865 of Maxwell’s Equations

To be held at the Royal Society of Edinburgh, 22 George Street, Edinburgh, free and open to the public but registration required.
The talks will be accessible to a wide audience, we have a stellar list of speakers:-

  • Prof. Peter Higgs, FRS, FRSE (Nobel Laureate, University of Edinburgh)
          Field Theories, Maxwellian and later developments
  • Sir Peter Knight, FRS (President of the Institute of Physics, 2011-13)
         The impact of Maxwell’s Equations  on Physics
  • Sir Michael Atiyah, OM, FRS, FRSE (Former President of the Royal Society and the Royal Society of Edinburgh)
         The Impact of Maxwell’s Equations on Mathematics
  • Prof. Malcolm Longair , FRS, FRSE (Prof. of Physics, University of Cambridge and former Astronomer Royal for Scotland)
         The Impact of Maxwell’s work on Colour and Statistical Physics
  • Prof. Jim Al-Khalili (Professor of Physics, Surrey University)
         The Impact Maxwell’s Demon on Information Theory and Computing
  • Prof. Carl Murray, (Professor of Astronomy, Queen Mary University)
         The  Impact on Astronomy of Maxwell’s  Adams Prize Essay (On the Stability of Saturn’s Rings)
  • Prof. Iain McLeod (formerly, Prof. of Mechanical Engineering, Strathclyde University
         The Impact on Engineering of  Maxwell’s articles on the stresses of structures and reciprocal diagrams
  • Prof. R. Sepulchre ( Professor of Control Engineering, University of Cambridge)
         The Impact on Control Theory and Cybernetics of Maxwell’s paper ‘On Governors‘

The evening will close with a reception and the official unveiling of a new Maxwell plaque at the University of Edinburgh.
There will also be guided tours of James Clerk Maxwell's House in India Street, on the morning of the 10 November.

James Clerk Maxwell ranks alongside Newton and Einstein as one of the world’s great physicists. In designating this year as the International Year of Light, UNESCO explicitly highlight the importance of 2015 as marking the 150th anniversary of the publication of Maxwell’s Equations. Maxwell’s impact extends well beyond this outstanding contribution; to enabling developments in colour theory, colour photography, statistical physics, information theory, Saturn’s rings, mechanical stress analysis and control theory. In this meeting, we bring together many eminent speakers to explore the legacy of Maxwell’s genius today, which continues to impact on many scientific and technological aspects of our modern society, from mobile phones and cybernetics to the discovery of the Higgs boson.

IYOL_200IYL 2015
The International Year of Light and Light-Based Technologies is a global initiative adopted by the United Nations to raise awareness of how optical technologies promote sustainable development and provide solutions to worldwide challenges in energy, education, agriculture, communications and health.  United Nations Resolution 68/221 notes that:
2015 coincides with the anniversaries of a series of important milestones in the history of the science of light, including the works on optics by Ibn Al-Haytham in 1015, the notion of light as a wave proposed by Fresnel in 1815, the electromagnetic theory of light propagation proposed by Maxwell in 1865, Einstein’s theory of the photoelectric effect in 1905 and embedding light in cosmology through general relativity in 1915, the discovery of cosmic microwave background by Penzias & Wilson and Kao’s achievements concerning the transmission of light in fibres for optical communication, both in 1965.

The James Clerk Maxwell Foundation (Registered Charity SC015003) was formed in Scotland in 1977 to honour  one of the greatest scientists who has ever lived: James Clerk Maxwell.

In 1993 the Foundation acquired James Clerk Maxwell's birthplace in Edinburgh (see brochure).  This elegant Georgian house, after period restoration, displays a growing collection of heritage material associated with James Clerk Maxwell, his associates and family circle.

The James Clerk Maxwell Foundation's objectives are:-

  • To provide in the birthplace an attractive and stimulating environment for the mathematicians, scientists and engineers
           from all over the world to meet in seminars, symposia, workshops and courses.
  • To display the history of Maxwell's family and his many technical advances, as a simple museum, within his birthplace.
  • To develop programmes to encourage young students to become  mathematicians, scientists and engineers. 
           Research and travel grants are made to young scientists.  James Clerk Maxwell prizes are awarded.
  • To increase public awareness of the foundations laid by James Clerk Maxwell for the increasingly pervasive
           technologies of today, e.g. through meetings, exhibitions,  lectures, and cultural events.

We welcome you to our web site and invite you to explore it, we hope that you will find something of interest about James Clerk Maxwell  - The man who changed everything.

Mark Lazarowicz, former Member of Parliament for Edinburgh North and Leith,
 tabled Early Day Motion 2554 (Session 07-08) in the UK Parliament as follows

That this House welcomes the unveiling of a statue to the great Scottish scientist James Clerk Maxwell, taking place in George Street, Edinburgh on 25th November 2008; recognises that Clerk Maxwell is one of the most influential scientists of all time, his discovery of the nature of electromagnetic waves paving the way for radio, television, radar and the mobile telephone; congratulates the Royal Society of Edinburgh and the many donors who made the monument possible; believes it is right there should be public recognition of the achievements of Clerk Maxwell in the city of his birth; and hopes that wider appreciation of the works of great Scottish scientists and engineers will inspire new generations to seek to follow in their footsteps.

See this article about the statue, reproduced by kind permission of The Scotsman

2006 marked the 175th Anniversary of James Clerk Maxwell’s birth -
click here for further information about the special events held in his honour.

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