If the size of the text in this page is too small, please either turn javascript on or adjust the default text size of your browser.
MV Home Scientists & Discovery home
Home Chemicals Reactions dna Lightning Rainbows Light Gravity Radioactivity Scientists

Maxwell's Equations

Maxwell's equations gave new understandings about light waves.

Static electricity was observed in ancient Greece. The magnetic behaviour of the Earth was described in China in the 11th century.

In the 19th century James Clerk Maxwell showed that electricity and magnetism are intimately related.

Maxwell's equations summarised:

  • the field produced by an electric charge
  • the way magnets always have two poles, North and South
  • the electric current created by a magnetic field
  • the magnetic field created by an electric current

Maxwell's equations suggested the existence of waves of energy. The speed predicted for these waves agreed closely with the speed of light that had been measured over the last century. This convinced Maxwell that light was a wave of electromagnetic energy.

Some scientists agreed with Maxwell, but others took years to be convinced. Eventually, however, Maxwell's theory led to the discovery of many new things about light and electromagnetism.


Static electricity

Magnetism
magnifyStatic electricity and Magnetism


Maxwell
magnifyJames Clerk Maxwell


Maxwell's equations
magnifyMaxwell's equations
© Museum Victoria Australia