Science & Technology

The Life and Work of James Clerk Maxwell

Professor Kenneth Letherman DSc
5th March 2018, 7:00pm

Physicists have for the past 150 years recognised James Clerk Maxwell as a giant figure in physical science, and he holds a unique position among them, although unlike Newton, Einstein and Richard Feynman, his name has not become widely known. His work in the mid-nineteenth century made new contributions to our understanding of the physical world in many diverse ways. These included Thermodynamics, the Elasticity of Solid Bodies, Colour Vision, Calculations of Structural Stresses, the Nature of Electric and Magnetic Fields, as well as other aspects of Physics. He discovered the nature of electromagnetic waves, and hence made possible the development of our great communication networks: television, radio, radar and mobile phones. His influence across many areas of physical science has been enormous. He was often ahead of his time, and many of his theories had to wait years before others confirmed his insights. The lecture will describe, in non-specialist language as far as possible, his life and major achievements.

About the Speaker

Kenneth Letherman took his first degree in Physics at UMIST, in the department headed by Professor Henry Lipson (twice President of the Lit & Phil). After three years in the Scientific Civil Service, working at the Building Research Station in Watford on computer simulations of energy consumption in buildings, he took up a lectureship at the National College for Heating, Ventilation and Refrigeration Engineering, part of the Borough Polytechnic in London (now the South Bank University), then returned to Manchester to do an MSc in Control Engineering, then taking a lectureship at the Department of Building Engineering at UMIST, specialising in Automatic Controls for Services Systems. He was promoted to Senior Lecturer in 1980 and Professor of Building Services Engineering in 1990. He retired from the University in 2001.


Menu for Supper

Lancashire hotpot with crusty bread and pickled red cabbage

Mushroom and stilton pasta (v)

Chocolate fudge cake

Fresh fruit salad

N.B. the Lit & Phil office have to inform venues of catering numbers approximately 7 days before an event so please make sure you book as early as possible to avoid disappointment.