Presented by Glasgow City of Science’s Dr Susie Mitchell, the Discovery programme – available to listen to here – shares the story of the 19th Century Scottish scientist.

Professor Martin Hendry from the University of Glasgow describes Maxwell’s lifelong curiosity about the world and his gift for solving complicated puzzles led him to a string of discoveries. Maxwell was the first person to demonstrate a way of taking colour photographs, and he used mathematics to work out what the rings of Saturn were made of before any telescope or spacecraft was able to observe them close up. His most important achievement however was the discovery of electromagnetism, as neatly described by four now famous lines of equations.

Claire Quigley from CoderDojo Scotland based at Glasgow Science Centre explains how Maxwell’s prediction of electromagnetic waves led on to a huge range of today’s technology, from mobile phones and wi-fi equipment to radio, X-rays and microwave ovens. Albert Einstein considered him a genius, and another scientist Heinrich Hertz described him as ‘Maestro Maxwell’.

The 2015 International Year of Light celebrates, amongst other events, the anniversary of his ground-breaking publication about electromagnetism. So the only question is – how come the name James Clerk Maxwell isn’t better known?


CoderDojo Scotland

Professor Martin Hendy, University of Glasgow Staff Profile

Glasgow City of Science network contribution to BBC School’s Radio programme: ‘Scots who changed the world’

BBC World Service

International Year of Light 2015 (Scotland)