A slight diversion in this post, since today (June 13) is the birthday of one of my physics heroes: James Clerk Maxwell. Any physics student should be familiar with his name, as it is attached to some of the most important equations in physics such as Maxwell’s equations in electromagnetism, of course, but also the Maxwell-Boltzmann distribution in statistical mechanics. He must surely be the greatest physicist of the 19th century, and it’s arguable that his contributions to science are more important to our everyday lives than those of Einstein. Maxwell’s equations are at the foundation of pretty well everything electrical, from computers to radio waves.
I won’t go into a biography of him here (Wikipedia has a decent entry on him), though I would like to mention that even in his homeland (Scotland, where I happen to live), he is largely unknown, even by many in technical professions such as science and engineering. There is a statue of him that was erected recently in Edinburgh, but if you mention his name to most people, you will draw a blank.
So to anyone interested in physics on any level, please take a moment to ponder Maxwell’s contributions and importance to your subject, and do your part to get him better known!