James Clerk Maxwell

  • Maxwell on Molecules and Gases

    Maxwell on Molecules and Gases

    James Clerk Maxwell, Elizabeth Garber, Stephen G. Brush, and C. W. F. Everitt

    James Clerk Maxwell (1831-1879) is generally considered the most important mathematical physicist in the period between Newton and Einstein. His work, like theirs, exhibits range as well as depth and extends from his grand synthesis of electrical, magnetic, and optical phenomena in the theory of electromagnetic fields to his contributions to the kinetic theory of gases and its generalization into statistical mechanics. Maxwell on Saturn's Rings (The MIT Press, 1983) focused on the early work that confirmed Maxwell's scientific promise. The present volume deals with the evolution of Maxwell's overview of atomic and statistical physics and with his work on the kinetic theory of transport phenomena in gases. It includes 92 documents and papers spanning the years 1859-1879. Among these are previously unpublished notes, drafts, and calculations and correspondence with Peter Guthrie Tait, William Thomson (Lord Kelvin), Herbert Spencer, George Gabbriel Stokes, Simon Newcomb, and others. The reader can trace Maxwell's insights from their inception to their fruition in the fully worked-out formal papers and shorter communications to Nature that are also included. The documents reveal the stages through which key concepts passed - such as the idea that diffusion, viscosity, and heat conduction in gases are parallel dynamical processes expressed in terms of the transfer of mass, momentum, and energy - and show Maxwell's skill in balancing abstract philosophical generalization with concrete practical detail. The editors have provided a comprehensive introduction that places the material in historical context. A forthcoming volume on thermodynamics and statistical mechanics will conclude their presentation of Maxwell's scientific development.

    • Hardcover $95.00
  • Maxwell on Saturn's Rings

    James Clerk Maxwell, Stephen G. Brush, C. W. F. Everitt, and Elizabeth Garber

    From the first time they were dimly sighted through Galileo's telescope to the recent spectacular pictures beamed back by Voyager, Saturn's rings have fascinated generations of observers. The scientific problems associated with them have also attracted the attention of successive generations of theoreticians. James Clerk Maxwell's 1856 Adams Prize Essay, "On the Stability of the Motion of Saturn's Rings," forms the central body of this book and is the work that first established his reputation as one of the greatest mathematical physicists of any generation. It is surrounded by previously unpublished materials written both before and after the essay was completed. The former group consists of sixteen letters - to William Thomson (later Lord Kelvin), George Gabriel Stokes, Peter Guthrie Tait, and other friends and colleagues - written while Maxwell was working out the problems and preparing the essay for publication, and they reveal both the sureness of his approach and false starts and errors. The post-essay documents include a review of the work by George Biddell Airy, the Astronomer Royal, and correspondence with the Harvard astronomer George Bond in 1863. Here Maxwell attempts to extend his analysis to include the effects of collisions among the particles of the ring, employing his own newly developed kinetic theory of gases. The editors' introduction provides a historical context for Maxwell's contribution.

    • Hardcover $37.50