Discover three scientific instruments made for the Scottish scientist James Clerk Maxwell, one of the world's greatest physicists.

Who was James Clerk Maxwell?

James Clerk Maxwell (1831-1879) was born in Edinburgh, and in his comparatively short life became one of the world’s greatest physicists. He studied at the Universities of Edinburgh and Cambridge, before holding professorships at Marischal College in Aberdeen, then King’s College London and later at Cambridge.  

Maxwell is particularly acknowledged among scientists for combining the theories of electricity and magnetism into electromagnetism, described by Maxwell’s equations. However, his research was very wide ranging, as shown by the variety of objects in our collections which were made for him.

Statue of James Clerk Maxwell shown holding his colour top, erected in 2008 on George Street in Edinburgh.

Above: Statue of James Clerk Maxwell shown holding his colour top, erected in 2008 on George Street in Edinburgh. Photo by Kim Traynor (CC BY-SA 3.0).

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