The Scientific Papers of James Clerk Maxwell

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The publication in 1890 of the two-volume Scientific Papers of James Clerk Maxwell, edited by W. D. Niven, was one of the two objects of a committee formed 'for the purpose of securing a fitting memorial of him' (the other object being the commissioning of a marble bust for the Cavendish Laboratory). Before his death in 1879 at the age of 48, Clerk Maxwell had made major contributions to many areas of theoretical physics and mathematics, not least his discoveries in the fields of electromagnetism and of the kinetic theory of gases, which have been regarded as laying the foundations of all modern physics. He is generally considered the third most important physicist of all time, after Newton and Einstein. These collected shorter works, beginning with a paper written at the age of 15, show the wide range of Clerk Maxwell's interests across mathematics, physics and chemistry.

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Table of Contents

Preface; 1. On the description of oval curves and those having a plurality of foci; 2. On the theory of rolling curves; 3. On the equilibrium of elastic solids; 4. On the transformation of surfaces by bending; 5. On a particular case of the descent of a heavy body in a resisting medium; 6. On the theory of colours in relation to colour-blindness; 7. Experiments on colour as perceived by the eye, with remarks on colour-blindness; 8. On Faraday's lines of force; 9. Description of a new form of the Platometer, an instrument for measuring the areas of plane figures drawn on paper; 10. On the elementary theory of optical instruments; 11. On a method of drawing the theoretical forms of Faraday's lines of force without calculation; 12. On the unequal sensibility of the Foramen Centrale to light of different colours; 13. On the theory of compound colours with reference to mixtures of blue and yellow light; 14. On an instrument to illustrate Poinsont's theory of rotation; 15. On a dynamical top, for exhibiting the phenomena of the motions of a body of invariable form about a fixed point, with some suggestions as to the earth's motion; 16. Account of experiments on the perception of colour; 17. On the general laws of optical instruments; 18. On theories of the constitution of Saturn's rings; 19. On the stability of the motion of Saturn's rings; 20. Illustrations of the dynamical theory of gases; 21. On the theory of compound colours and the relations of the colours of the spectrum; 22. On the theory of three primary colours; 23. On the physical lines of force; 24. On reciprocal figures and diagrams of forces; 25. A dynamical theory of the electromagnetic field; 26. On the calculation of the equilibrium and stiffness of frames.

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