History of Electromagnetism: Stories Behind Maxwell’s Equations Essay

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James Clerk Maxwell was born in 1931 in Scotland to a family of scientists. The family was also famous for abundant in Fellows of the Royal Society, an elite organization of the top scientists of all disciplines in Great Britain (The Royal Society, 2011). Maxwell began his academic career quite early. He presented his first paper “Oval Curves” to the Royal Society of Edinburgh when he was fourteen (Forfar, 1995). Maxwell began his undergraduate studies at Edinburgh University at age sixteen and entered graduate school at Cambridge University at age nineteen. After graduation, he was a fellow and professor at a variety of colleges in the United Kingdom. Maxwell was inducted as a Fellow of The Royal Society of Edinburgh when he was 25, and promoted to a Fellow of The Royal Society at age 30. After a fruitful career, James Maxwell passed away at the age of 48 of stomach cancer, which was oddly the same cause and timing of his mother’s death when Maxwell was eight years old (Forfar, 1995). Before we start talking about Maxwell’s Equations, let’s look back into history. The systematic investigation of electromagnetism did not occur until the middle age. Magnetic phenomena were first explored in the 12th century—the magnetic compass, and not considered a novelty. In the 13th century, a France scientist names Petrus Peregrinus de Maricourt found that when a magnetized needle was placed on a spherical magnet it would align itself longitudinally. Tracing the line, he showed that they intersected in two points on opposite sides of the sphere. He called there, “magnetic poles” (Segre, 1984). This is the starting point of the whole story. During the 13th century and the 18th century, there are several scientists devoted themselves to the research of revealing the mystery of the magnetic field and some fundamental phenomena have been discovered. By 1770, it was known

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