Who was james clerk maxwell and what was and is his electromagnetic theory?

Tapan K. Sarkar, Magdalena Salazar-Palma, Dipak L. Sengupta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


The electromagnetics community makes profuse utilization of Maxwell's equations, his theory, and their applications. It is arguable that very few of us have clear ideas about what exactly Maxwell did and what kind of scientist he was. In fact, he developed many of the fundamental ideas in electrical engineering, and provided mathematical language for their exposition. His contributions to other branches of science are no less significant. He was not only one of the great scientists of the nineteenth century, but was also great for all time. To this end, the present essay starts with a brief outline of his life. It then provides a short but critical discussion of his original contributions in electromagnetics and their evolution as his electromagnetic theory. We also give a cursory review of his significant contributions in other areas of science. It is hoped that this will provide the electromagnetics- community readers with a better and more complete appreciation of James Clerk Maxwell as a scientist, as well as of his electromagnetic theory as we know now it.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number5338690
Pages (from-to)97-116
Number of pages20
JournalIEEE Antennas and Propagation Magazine
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2009


  • Aether
  • Ampre
  • Cavendish
  • Color vision
  • Control theory
  • Coulomb
  • Electromagnetic theory
  • Entropy
  • Faraday
  • Fitzgerald
  • Heaviside
  • Hertz
  • Information theory
  • Larmor
  • Lodge
  • Maxwell
  • Normal distribution
  • Probability theory
  • Statistical law
  • Television

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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