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James Clerk Maxwell

British physicist who clarified the nature of the Saturn's rings, synthesized the electro-magnetic theory, and prepared the statistical mechanics by developing the kinetic theory of gases. He was born in Edinburgh and studied in Edingburgh and Cambridge.

"Maxwell's demon" for showing that the second law of thermodynamics can be broken without contradiction at the level of molecular physics appears in his Theory of Heat (1871); and it illustrates the subtle nature of the kinetic theory which boldly combines Newtonian mechanics with probability theory. Although he held that there are two levels of knowledge (molecular-mechanical, and thermodynamic-statistical), and that the second law of thermodynamics hold only at the coarser level of knowledge, the matter was not as simple as that. Does not the demon need energy for its information processing for the supposed breach of the second law? The nature of irreversibility is still a difficult problem.

Also, he is known as the first person succeeded in taking a color photo.

See Maxwell's Demon


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Last modified Dec. 11, 2008. (c) Soshichi Uchii