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Maxwell's luminous ideas


Tartan ribbon

This is the first permanent colour photograph in the world. It was created by James Clerk Maxwell in 1861. I thought of it after I posted the photo of fireworks in the sky above Edinburgh. (See below.)

Born in Edinburgh, Maxwell’s genius was for mathematics and physics. At King’s College, London, and at Cambridge, he established the field theory and the electromagnetic theory of light mathematically and experimentally.

Maxwell’s equations were fundamental to the technology of electric power, radio, and satellite communications. He explained Saturn’s rings a century before Voyager proved him right.

He always loved what he called “gorgeous entanglements of colour”.