In this chapter, we introduce the first equation of electrodynamics. A note to the reader: This is going to get a bit mathematical. It can't be helped. Models of the physical universe, like Newton's second law F = ma, are based in math. So are Maxwell's equations.
2.1 Enter Stage Left: Maxwell
James Clerk Maxwell (Fig. 2.1) was born in 1831 in Edinburgh, Scotland. His unusual middle name derives from his uncle, who was the 6th Baronet Clerk of Penicuik (pronounced "penny-cook"), a town not far from Edinburgh. Clerk was, in fact, the original family name; Maxwell's father, John Clerk, adopted the surname Maxwell after receiving a substantial inheritance from a family named Maxwell. By most accounts, James Clerk Maxwell (hereafter referred to as simply Maxwell) was an intelligent but relatively unaccomplished student.
However, Maxwell began blossoming intellectually in his early teens, becoming interested in mathematics (especially geometry). He eventually attended the University of Edinburgh and, later, Cambridge University, where he graduated in 1854 with a degree in mathematics. He stayed on for a few years as a Fellow, then moved to Marischal College in Aberdeen. When Marischal merged with another college to form the University of Aberdeen in 1860, Maxwell was laid off (an action for which the University of Aberdeen should still be kicking themselves, but who can foretell the future?), and he found another position at King's College London (later the University of London).