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The genius of James Clerk Maxwell, the man who made equations speak

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Italian Cultural Institute

39 Belgrave Square

London

SW1X 8NX

United Kingdom

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Italy-UK Science Café

Prof. Gian-Luca Oppo
In Einstein's office in Princeton there were three portraits: Newton, Faraday and James Clerk Maxwell (1831-1879). Although Maxwell’s work does not enjoy the same popularity of that of his peers, he nonetheless revolutionised the history of science with sensational discoveries: electro-magnetic waves, the speed of light, the unification of electric and magnetic forces, statistical mechanics, the vastness of the electro-magnetic spectrum, light emission, the theory of the thermostat, and even colour photography. While the nineteen century has linked thermodynamics to the industrial revolution, the twentieth century has been dominated by the consequences of Maxwell's discoveries - radio, television, x-rays, radars, microwave ovens, mobile phones. We will show that Maxwell has also changed theoretical physics from just explanation to a combination of explanation and prediction of physical phenomena. Quite many achievements for a reserved and self-deprecating Scot.

Prof. Gian-Luca Oppo is the 1796 Freeland Chair of Natural Philosophy at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, of the Optical Society of America, and of the Institute of Physics. Oppo is the recipient of the 2011 Occhialini Medal from the Societa’ Italiana di Fisica and the UK Institute of Physics for his work in the theory and simulation of systems in laser physics, photonics and quantum optics. Oppo graduated at the University of Florence, worked at the Universities of Nice, Toronto, Philadelphia and Auckland, is a recognised teacher and science populariser, and has been awarded the University of Strathclyde Teaching Excellence Award in both 2014 and 2016.

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Italian Cultural Institute

39 Belgrave Square

London

SW1X 8NX

United Kingdom

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