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ABC's Modern Family & Maxwell

Ariel Winter, who plays the nerdy teenager on ABC’s Modern Family, was in the news recently dealing with her relationship with her mother and possibly a boyfriend. However, that is not why you read SpectrumTalk. But when NBC reported this item they used the picture shown at left.

Maxwell t-shirt
To us techies, the shirt was instant recognizable as showing Maxwell’s Equations in differential form. Here is a picture of the same or a similar shirt from a website.

The MIT website gives what they claim as the history of this design which for many years was sold by MIT Hillel, a Jewish student group, for fund raising.

James Clerk Maxwell grouped together the work of other physicists of his day including Ampère’, Gauss, and Faraday and showed how they were all consistent and could predict the existence of electromagnetic waves such as light and radio. The equations in the form shown are due to the later work of Oliver Heaviside, memorialized in the lyrics for Cats in the refrain “Up, up, up, up to the Heaviside layer” which deals with other work he did on ionospheric radio propagation.

James Clerk Maxwell (l)
Oliver Heaviside(r)

225px-James_Clerk_Maxwell 200px-Oliver_Heaviside2
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