Blog on Math Blogs

Mathematical Digest

Short Summaries of Articles about Mathematics
in the Popular Press

"Outstanding in his field": Review of The Man Who Changed Everything: The Life of James Clerk Maxwell, by Basil Mahon. Reviewed by John Maddox. Nature, 23 October 2003.

The biographer Basil Mahon became infatuated at an early age with the work of Maxwell; the book reviewed is the culmination of years of interest and research on the subject. The reviewer highlights one of Maxwell's early published papers presented in the biography: "a mathematical framework for the treatment of the distribution of stress and strain in an elastic solid---became, mostly in other hands, one of the monuments of British nineteenth century physics." The reviewer (John Maddox, now emeritus editor of Nature) recounts this and other highlights of the book and concludes that general readers will find it "not merely an absorbing account of Maxwell's life but also an explanation of why his work is at the foundations of the modern world."

--- Annette Emerson