Secondary title: "The life of James Clerk Maxwell" James Clerk Maxwell was a well known physicist in the 19th century. Most people who are familiar with him know about the Maxwell equations of electo-magnetic theory. I've also heard about the Maxwell-Bolzmann distribution in statistical mechanics. However, it appears that his contribution to science has been much more diverse. Apart from critical breakthroughs in electromagnetism, he originated the field of statistical mechanics, did important research in color vision and created the first color photographs. His work on control of steam engines is considered one of the classics of modern control theory. In whataver topic this man got interested, he contributed important ideas. For example, up to this day one of the gaps in the rings of Saturn is named after Maxwell, as he was the first that conducted serious research on what the rings are composed of and why they don't collapse into the planet or fly away into space. This book is a short (< 200 pages) biography, telling about Maxwell's life from his childhood and until his death. The author attempts to be very accurate in historic facts and brings a lot of references to papers and letters in the notes. It's pretty well written and is easy and quick to read. My only complaint is that the book is a bit too dry. But in this sense I'm not sure what's right - I dislike popular science authors who only focus on the few juicy details of the lives of those whom they describe. Perhaps one has to strike just the right balance between dry presentation of facts and gossipy details - this is where the good non-fiction authors can really shine.


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