Birthday of James Clerk Maxwell
Other Scottish Country Dances for this Day
Today's Musings, History & Folklore
"At quite uncertain times and places, The atoms left their heavenly path, And by fortuitous embraces, Engendered all that being hath. And though they seem to cling together, And form 'associations' here, Yet, soon or late, they burst their tether, And through the depths of space career." ~James Clerk Maxwell (1831-1879)
James Clerk Maxwell was a Scottish scientist in the field of mathematical physics. Amongst his many notable achievements, this dance refers to his formulation of the classical theory of electromagnetic radiation, bringing together for the first time electricity, magnetism, and light as different manifestations of the same phenomenon. Maxwell's equations for electromagnetism have been called the "second great unification in physics"(after the first one realised by Isaac Newton) and helped to usher in the era of modern physics, laying the foundation for the fields of special relativity and quantum mechanics.
James Clerk Maxwell (13 June 1831 – 5 November 1879) was a Scottish scientist in the field of mathematical physics. Amongst his many notable achievements, his most notable namesake achievement was to formulate the classical theory of electromagnetic radiation, bringing together for the first time electricity, magnetism, and light as different manifestations of the same phenomenon. Maxwell's equations for electromagnetism have been called the "second great unification in physics"after the first one realised by Isaac Newton.
His discoveries helped usher in the era of modern physics, laying the foundation for such fields as special relativity and quantum mechanics.
Amongst his many other interests, Maxwell made a study of colour vision and published at intervals a series of investigations concerning the perception of colour, colour-blindness, and colour theory.
Isaac Newton had demonstrated, using prisms, that white lights, such as sunlight, are composed of a number of monochromatic components which could then be recombined into white light.
Maxwell was interested in applying his theory of colour perception, namely in colour photography. Stemming directly from his psychological work on colour perception: if a sum of any three lights could reproduce any perceivable colour, then colour photographs could be produced with a set of three coloured filters.
In the course of his 1855 paper, Maxwell proposed that, if three black-and-white photographs of a scene were taken through red, green and blue filters and transparent prints of the images were projected onto a screen using three projectors equipped with similar filters, when superimposed on the screen the result would be perceived by the human eye as a complete reproduction of all the colours in the scene.
During an 1861 Royal Institution lecture on colour theory, Maxwell presented the world's first demonstration of colour photography by this principle of three-colour analysis and synthesis. Thomas Sutton, inventor of the single-lens reflex camera, took the picture. He photographed a tartan ribbon three times, through red, green, and blue filters, also making a fourth photograph through a yellow filter, which, according to Maxwell's account, was not used in the demonstration.
To see the dance performed by the Dufftown Dance Club, Moray, Scotland, 2012, click the video.
And for more on his life and many achievements, click the tartan ribbon for a humorous 5 minute video!