Section News

Watch Again | LMAG Webinar – How Maxwell Created the Modern World by Peter Grant, OBE

About this Event

This webinar introduces James Clerk Maxwell, born in 1831, the most important scientist in the era between Newton and Einstein.

Firstly, it explores Maxwell’s family background and his inquisitive childhood before introducing several of his many scientific advances, starting with his work on oval curves when he was only 14 years old and his prediction of the form and nature of Saturn’s rings, as recognised by the award of the Adams Prize in 1857.

The webinar then concentrates on his two major advances: colour reproduction – for which he received the Rumford Medal of the Royal Society in 1860 – and his 1864/5 set of 20 equations on the “Dynamical Theory of the Electromagnetic (EM) Field” providing the first theory governing electromagnetic wave generation.

EM waves were only first demonstrated by Heinrich Hertz in 1988, nine years after Maxwell’s death and were subsequently used by Marconi for radio communication from 1897 onwards.

Finally, Maxwell and Kelvin’s contributions to standardising the ohm as the unit of electrical resistance are described before introducing the small museum in Maxwell’s birthplace, 14 India Street, Edinburgh.

About the speaker

Peter Grant, OBE, FREng, FRSE, is an Emeritus Regius Professor of Electrical Engineering in the University of Edinburgh, Scotland.  His primary interests are applying signal and information processing techniques for application in communication and radar systems. He has a continuing interest in the research he conducted during the 1970s on military spread spectrum communication and electronic support measures equipment for the gathering, analysis, sorting and classification of electronic signals.

Most of his research has been stimulated by electronic systems requirements and he maintains regular contact with many civil service and private industrial research and development laboratories.  He is a trustee of the James Clerk Maxwell Foundation.