Though James Clerk Maxwell (1831–1879) is best remembered for his epochal achievements in electricity and magnetism, he was wide-ranging in his scientific investigations, and he came to brilliant conclusions in virtually all of them. As James R. Newman put it, Maxwell "combined a profound physical intuition, an exquisite feeling for the relationship of objects, with a formidable mathematical capacity to establish orderly connections among diverse phenomena. This blending of the concrete and the abstract was the chief characteristic of almost all his researches."
Maxwell's work on heat and statistical physics has long been recognized as vitally important, but Theory of Heat, his own masterful presentation of his ideas, remained out of print for years before being brought back in this new edition. In this unjustly neglected classic, Maxwell sets forth the fundamentals of thermodynamics clearly and simply enough to be understood by a beginning student, yet with enough subtlety and depth of thought to appeal also to more advanced readers. He goes on to elucidate the fundamental ideas of kinetic theory, and — through the mental experiment of "Maxwell's demon" — points out how the Second Law of Thermodynamics relies on statistics.
A new Introduction and notes by Peter Pesic put Maxwell's work into context and show how it relates to the quantum ideas that emerged a few years later. Theory of Heat will serve beginners as a sound introduction to thermal physics; advanced students of physics and the history of science will find Maxwell's ideas stimulating, and will be delighted to discover this inexpensive reprint of a long-unavailable classic.
James Clerk Maxwell: In His Own Words — And Others
Dover reprinted Maxwell's Treatise on Electricity and Magnetism in 1954, surely one of the first classics of scientific literature over a thousand pages in length to be given new life and accessibility to students and researchers as a result of the paperback revolution of the 1950s. Matter and Motion followed in 1991 and Theory of Heat in 2001.
Some towering figures in science have to speak for themselves. Such is James Clerk Maxwell (1813–1879), the Scottish physicist and mathematician who formulated the basic equations of classical electromagnetic theory.
In the Author's Own Words:
"We may find illustrations of the highest doctrines of science in games and gymnastics, in traveling by land and by water, in storms of the air and of the sea, and wherever there is matter in motion."
"The 2nd law of thermodynamics has the same degree of truth as the statement that if you throw a tumblerful of water into the sea, you cannot get the same tumblerful of water out again." — James Clerk Maxwell
Critical Acclaim for James Clerk Maxwell:
"From a long view of the history of mankind — seen from, say, ten thousand years from now — there can be little doubt that the most significant event of the 19th century will be judged as Maxwell's discovery of the laws of electrodynamics. The American Civil War will pale into provincial insignificance in comparison with this important scientific event of the same decade." — Richard P. Feynman
"Maxwell's equations have had a greater impact on human history than any ten presidents." — Carl Sagan
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