Talk:James Clerk Maxwell/Draft

From Citizendium
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This article has a Citable Version.
Main Article
Related Articles  [?]
Bibliography  [?]
External Links  [?]
Citable Version  [?]
Addendum [?]
To learn how to update the categories for this article, see here. To update categories, edit the metadata template.
 Definition (1831 – 1879) Scottish physicist best known for his formulation of electromagnetic theory and the statistical theory of gases. [d] [e]
Checklist and Archives
 Workgroup categories Physics, History and Engineering [Please add or review categories]
 Talk Archive none  English language variant British English

Finished Maxwell

I finished this article for the time being. I invite native speakers to remove my linguistic idiosyncracies.--Paul Wormer 12:11, 7 August 2008 (CDT)

Some Suggestions per Approval

  • First Paragraph: I'm not overly enthusiastic about phrases such as "He is regarded by most modern physicists" and he "is ranked." It reads like this article is trying to sell us a bill of goods that we wouldn't normally buy. This paragraph should assert Maxwell's greatness on his own merits (as it does in the first sentence and the last sentence of this section) and not assert his greatness by association. The guy invented the modern field of electro-magnetism which is the foundation of modern physics.

This article also got me wondering: Was Maxwell responsible for advancing the ether model? Because the next big thing with light was the Michelson-Morley Experiment attempting to measure the ether drift of light. [btw, the experiment is on display in one of the admin buildings at Case from where I graduated. (okay, I'm proud...)]

Overall, this is a fine article. It deals with the biography of an important physicist and it discusses that physicist's important contributions in a manner that is understandable for other physicists. I must admit that I skipped over a lot of the discussion dealing with formulas (but that's typical non-specialist reader's behavior). I wonder, though, if a common reader will get the theory being presented (I didn't; I skipped it). There is also the irony here where the article says "accessible to the modern reader" but goes on to present the formula.

I think both. The article needs to (& does) speak to two different levels of readers. Russell D. Jones 19:07, 3 February 2009 (UTC)


Since this is such a large re-write, I'm proposing it here first: Russell D. Jones 15:56, 6 February 2009 (UTC)

Current text:

In London, Maxwell did most of his great work on electromagnetism, but he also worked on his colour theory and kinetic theory of gases. His earliest biographers, Lewis Campbell and William Garnett<ref>L. Campbell and W. Garnett, The Life of James Clerk Maxwell, MacMillan, London (1882) [ Online]</ref>, discuss this period:<blockquote><i>
During most of the King's College time Maxwell resided at 8 Palace Gardens Terrace, Kensington, where he carried on many of his experiments in a large garret which ran the whole length of the house. When experimenting at the window with the colour-box (which was painted black, and nearly eight feet long), he excited the wonder of his neighbours, who thought him mad to spend so many hours in staring into a coffin. This was also the scene of his well-known experiments on the viscosity of gases at different pressures and temperatures. For some days a large fire was kept up in the room, though it was in the midst of very hot weather. Kettles were kept on the fire, and large quantities of steam allowed to flow into the room. Mrs. Maxwell acted as stoker, which was very exhausting work when maintained for several consecutive hours. After this the room was kept cool, for subsequent experiments, by the employment of a considerable amount of ice.</i></blockquote>
In June 1861, at the age of just 29, Maxwell became a fellow of the Royal Society of London, which entitled him to the postnominal FRS.

I suggest:

"In London, Maxwell did most of his great work on electromagnetism, but he also worked on his colour theory and kinetic theory of gases in his garrett laboratory. He earned a reputation, at least among his neighbors, as an eccentric scientist. His colour experiments had him gazing into a long, coffin-like, lightbox. His gas experiments were conducted with steam during the dead of summer. His wife, as de-facto lab assistant, kept the stove stoked and water boiling through many hot summer afternoons. And other experiments required cooler temperatures provided by large amounts of ice, probably also hauled to the garrett by his wife.<ref>Lewis Campbell and William Garnett, The Life of James Clerk Maxwell, MacMillan, London (1882) Online</ref> These experiments, among his peers, earned him great respect as in June 1861, at the age of just 29, Maxwell became a fellow of the Royal Society of London, which entitled him to the postnominal FRS."
I agree with this, I quoted Campbell and Garnett literally because I felt that their English was better than mine, but now you retold their story excellently.
I'm not sure about the term "garret", though. To me it sounds like smallish room in the attic (whereas I understand it was pretty large), but I'm not very familiar with the word, so if you feel that it doesn't need to be qualified I accept that. --Paul Wormer 16:07, 6 February 2009 (UTC)
I also associate garret with cramped but I don't think the word itself implies this association. Possibly this is just our own experience being imposed onto the meaning? Chris Day 16:39, 6 February 2009 (UTC)
I kept the term (and repeated it) because there is a lot of literature and popular traditions surrounding the myth of "the lone inventor in his garret" [or scientist in this case]. The myth reinforces an ideology of individualism, which is rarely the case (witness Maxwell's wife). I'm not committed to the term. Could we say "in a laboratory he established in the top floor of his London home" ?
Yes, I concede also that Campbell and Garnett have better prose than mine. It's the blockquote and its content to which I object. I don't see that the content of the quote adds to the point of the paragraph, which is, that Maxwell's London experiments, conducted in his attic, earned him the respect of his scientific peers and induction into the Royal Society. I find it really interesting, however, that the Campbell and Garnett quote brings out the centrality of Mrs. Maxwell in the man's success. Russell D. Jones 17:16, 6 February 2009 (UTC)

Spelling of units

See nist. Names in full not capitalized (hertz, newton) abbreviated capital (Hz, N). It is inconsistent, but I can't help it.--Paul Wormer 17:09, 6 February 2009 (UTC)

Interesting, I never knew that after all these years in science, I'm embarrassed to say :) Chris Day 17:18, 6 February 2009 (UTC)

Katherine's health

Russ, are you sure the couple returned to Glenlair because of the health of mrs. Maxwell? I intended to write the health of mr. (prof) Maxwell. Either you misunderstood my writing or you have new info.--Paul Wormer 16:52, 7 February 2009 (UTC)

Restored the former former. I understand now why I didn't understand that paragraph. Please, check me. I've gone through a couple sections and mostly tried to set the pronoun references. But, I may have confused matters as here. Thanks. Russell D. Jones 17:01, 7 February 2009 (UTC)
That proves that it is good that you work thru it. --Paul Wormer 17:23, 7 February 2009 (UTC)

Physics/History editors needed

I wrote here that Russell Jones (as history editor), and I, together with a third editor (yet to be found), could approve this article. But I made a mistake. Although I wrote close to 200 articles about topics in physics I am not a physics editor; I had a senior moment when I wrote that I could approve this article. Four days ago I e-mailed to Larry, referred to this discussion, and asked him to become a physics editor, so that I could participate in the approval. So far I haven't received an answer from Larry, so that in addition to Russell two other History/Physics editors have to be found.--Paul Wormer 08:50, 8 February 2009 (UTC)

Daniel Mietchen from physics might be interested. Roger Lohmann from history is active but not exactly a "history of science" historian. Maybe Milt Beychok as a chemical engineer would be appropriate because of Clerk Maxwell's gas experiments? --Joe Quick 19:00, 12 February 2009 (UTC)
I am an Editor in Engineering , Chemistry and Earth Sciences ... but not in Physics or in History. I think this article is excellent and I am willing to join in the approval nomination ... but am I eligible to do so? Is there anyone who can tell me if I am eligible? Milton Beychok 19:40, 14 February 2009 (UTC)
That depends on whether we think Engineering, Chemistry or Earth Sciences are legitimate categories for the topic. I would suggest that Chemistry workgroup or maybe the Chemical Engineering subworkgroup would be appropriate but I am not expert in any of the natural sciences. What does everyone think? --Joe Quick 20:55, 14 February 2009 (UTC)
I vote Yea! Russell D. Jones 21:13, 14 February 2009 (UTC)
Matt Innis has told me that if this article's Metadata sheet included a category in which I am an editor, then I would eligible to join in the approval nomination ... or I could make a single editor approval nomination since I have never worked on this article. See Matt's posting on my Talk page here.
Joe, I don't think that adding Chemical Engineering to the Metadata sheet as a subworkgroup would be valid because the subworkgroups have not yet had official sanction by the Editorial Council.
Russell, I am not too comfortable about adding Chemistry as a category in the Metadata page. However, I do believe that Maxwell's work on electro-magnetism and on gases would be a valid basis for adding the Engineering workgroup to the Metadata page ... and then I could either (a) join you as a co-nominator or (b) be a single editor nominator. Thus, if someone will add the Engineering Workgroup to the Metadata categories, then I will sign on as an approval nominator. Milton Beychok 21:32, 14 February 2009 (UTC)
Done! Thanks, Milt. It sure seemed like more workgroups would be applicable, but I couldn't figure out which ones. --Joe Quick 03:35, 15 February 2009 (UTC)
I nominate Joe for Approvals Manager! D. Matt Innis 04:30, 15 February 2009 (UTC)
Just to make sure, we either need one more name in the template by the 28th (I assume that would be Paul), or this would be a one editor approval by Milton, as he has not edited the article. Also, make sure the lastest version that all three approved is the version in the template. It's a little tricky, but I'll be looking to see when the editors put their names in the template (from the history) and comparing that to the version that was current at that time. If they don't match, I will then look at the talk page (here) and see if the date of their last comment suggesting that they approve the article is after the date in the template. Make sense? If not, ask me. Otherwise, see you on the 28th. D. Matt Innis 01:47, 16 February 2009 (UTC)
Matt, I believe Daniel Mietchen will be stopping by to add his signature. See his talk page for an absence of details. :-) --Joe Quick 04:56, 16 February 2009 (UTC)
Paul cannot approve it as he is not a physics editor. --Paul Wormer 07:06, 16 February 2009 (UTC)
Ah, okay. You guys don't need me anymore! See you on the 28th. D. Matt Innis 12:39, 16 February 2009 (UTC)

Just stopped in. All looks good for approval tomorrow. I do see that the template has been updated by Russell at 8:20 on the 23rd and the only change since then was Milt's and I agree they were copyedits.. so see you all tomorrow! D. Matt Innis 20:00, 27 February 2009 (UTC)

Approved Version 1.0

Congratulations! Please keep further discussion below this line: D. Matt Innis 02:02, 1 March 2009 (UTC)

Another portrait

I don't know if it's needed, but I found another portrait if someone wants to include it.

--Todd Coles 00:11, 9 March 2009 (UTC)