We are unabashed fans of [The History Guy’s] YouTube channel, although his history videos aren’t always about technology, and even when they are, they don’t always dig into the depths that we’d like to see. That’s understandable since the channel is a general interest channel. However, for this piece on James Clerk Maxwell, he brought in [Arvin Ash] to handle the science side. While [The History Guy] talked about Maxwell’s life and contributions, [Arvin] has a complementary video covering the math behind the equations. You can see both videos below.
Of course, if you’ve done electronics for long, you probably know at least something about Maxwell’s equations. They unified electricity and magnetism and Einstein credited them with spurring one of his most famous theories.
Deriving Maxwell’s equations is a math nightmare, but [Arvin] doesn’t do that. He uses some amazing graphics to explain how the equations relate electricity and magnetism. A great deal of our modern world — especially related to any sort of radio technology — builds on these four concise equations.
One thing we didn’t realize is how wide-ranging Maxwell’s interest were. He contributed to astronomy by explaining Saturn’s rings, derived statistical laws about gasses, and worked on color vision, including creating the first light-fast color photograph. He also contributed to thermodynamics, control theory, and optics. Those were the days!
We really enjoyed the way the two videos support each other. Understanding the math is a big deal to us, but understanding the man’s life and the context he lived in is pretty interesting, too. We hope we see more such collaborations.
Not that we don’t do our part to try to tell technology history with a bit more depth than a typical history book. Do you remember [Rufus Turner]? We do. We’ve even had a few debates over who really invented radio. If you want more of that, you can always browse our history tag.