James Clerk Maxwell, Mathematical Physicist
James Clerk Maxwell, Mathematical Physicist

When did he live? 他生活在什么年代?

James Clerk was born on 13 June 1831 in Edinburgh. He died on 5 November 1879.
詹姆斯·克拉克·麦克斯韦 于1831年6月13日生于爱丁堡,于1879年11月5日逝世。

He added the name Maxwell later after inheriting an estate connected to the Maxwell family.
他在继承了一笔麦克斯韦家族的遗产后,在自己的名字中加入了”麦克斯韦”这个姓氏

A Young James Clerk Maxwell
A Young James Clerk Maxwell

Why is he famous? 他为什么出名?

Maxwell is one of history’s most important mathematical physicists.
麦克斯韦是历史上最出名的数学物理学家。

He is most famous for his predictions and calculations on electromagnetic fields. By combining the theories of optics, magnetism and electricity, Maxwell not only predicted that the fields exist as waves, but also created a set of equations that could be used to measure them.
他最为人所知的成就是预测并且计算电磁场。通过综合光学、磁学和电学理论,麦克斯韦不但预测磁场以波的形式存在,并且建立了一组方程式计算磁场大小。

As well as this Maxwell, with the help of photographer Thomas Sutton, made the first durable (i.e. long-lasting) colour photograph. Maxwell believed that by working with red, green and blue filters light could be captured on a screen in a way that allowed the human eye to see the original colours. The first photograph was not perfect – only the blue filter worked to a high level – but the theory was proven correct.
在摄影家托马斯·萨顿的帮助下,麦克斯韦拍摄了第一张不脱色彩色照片。麦克斯韦认为,通过屏幕捕捉红绿蓝三种滤光,最终可以被肉眼还原成其原本的颜色。第一张照片并不完美,只有蓝色滤光表现出色,但是这张照片证明了其理论的正确性。

Maxwell also did important work on thermodynamics (particularly how gas particles speed up and slow down at different temperatures) and ‘control theory’.
麦克斯韦对热学(尤其是气体分子在不同温度下的加速和减速)和“控制理论”也有重要贡献。

What was his mark on history? 他的历史功绩是什么?

Maxwell is less famous than Newton or Einstein in everyday culture, but a major name in science. Quantum mechanics and Einstein’s theory of special relativity would not have been possible without Maxwell’s ideas on electromagnetism. Numerous inventions rely on knowledge of optics, magnetism and electricity.
虽然在大众文化中,麦克斯韦不如牛顿或者爱因斯坦出名,但其在科学领域却是鼎鼎大名的人物。如果没有麦克斯韦的电磁学理论,就不会有量子力学和爱因斯坦的相对论。很多发明也仰赖于其建立的光学、磁学和电学理论。

In 1881, after his death, Maxwell’s theories were tidied up into four equations called ‘Maxwell Equations’ (or ‘Maxwell Laws’). These laws are still used today.
1881年,也就是麦克斯韦去世后,其理论被整理成“麦克斯韦方程式”(或称“麦克斯韦定律”)。 这些定律至今仍被使用。

A CGS (centimetre/gram/second) scientific unit – the maxwell – was renamed after him in 1930.
1931年,CGS科学单位制(即厘米/克/秒)中的一个单位,以麦克斯韦的名字命名。

The Four Maxwell Equations
The Four Maxwell Equations

Notes 笔记

Maxwell’s family was well-connected: he came from a family of barons.
麦克斯韦家庭背景很好,他的父亲是男爵。

He was taught at home by family members until he was ten (his family believing his potential was better developed this way) then went to a well-known Edinburgh school, and finally the universities of Edinburgh, and Cambridge. He wrote his first scientific paper aged 14 (the paper was given to the Royal Society of Edinburgh by James Forbes because Maxwell was too young to attend) and, by 25, he was a professor at Aberdeen’s Marischal College.
他从小在家里接受家庭成员对他的教育(他的家庭认为这更有助于发展他的潜力)。直到十岁,他进入一所爱丁堡有名的学校,并最终进入爱丁堡大学和剑桥大学就读。他在14岁完成了第一篇科学论文(由于当时麦克斯韦年龄太小,论文由詹姆斯·福布斯递交给爱丁堡皇家学会)。25岁时,麦克斯韦已经是阿伯丁大学马修学院的教授。

Maxwell also had a book of poetry published.
麦克斯韦还出版过一本诗集。

As well as a scientific unit, a mountain range on Venus and one of the gaps between the rings around Saturn are named after Maxwell.
除了科学单位以外,金星上的一条山脉以及一条土星环间的间隙也以麦克斯韦的名字命名。