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ploughing the arable farmland
of the sub-ether

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maxwell's diabolo

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james clerk maxwell was one of the greatest scientists the world has ever known. his understanding of the electromagnetic field united electricity and magnetism into one single, comprehensive theory. his insights into mathematics, astronomy, colour theory and engineering laid the groundwork for inventions and processes that nowadays we take for granted. great physicists, from einstein to feynman, have heaped praise on this edinburgh-born polymath for his brilliant, groundbreaking discoveries.

but that’s not why james clerk maxwell was awesome.

his awesomeness, in my opinion, lies in the fact that he was a diabolo performer, at a time when few people would have known what a diabolo is. his simple wooden diabolo was given to him as a gift when he was a child, and by the time he was ready to head off to university, he was something of a professional. I think I can relate to this quirky nineteenth century gent. he would pack his diabolo when he went on holidays, (as I like to do) he practiced for hours on end to improve his tricks, (as I do) and he loved to perform in front of crowds of people if the occasion arose (yup, I like that as well).

and who knows? perhaps maxwell’s fascination with the diabolo led him to think about the forces of physics operating when it spins, which fuelled his curiosity from a young age and led him to be the great scientist that he ultimately became. I’d love that to be true. in any case, I thought it would be appropriate to celebrate maxwell’s 182nd birthday (it was a couple of weeks ago) by performing a bit of diabolo in front of his statue at the foot of george street in edinburgh. hopefully he would appreciate it.
30th Jun 2013, 18:51   | tags:,,

Dhamaka says:


1st Jul 2013, 10:55

billion says:

he was quite a character...

1st Jul 2013, 19:11

Wendle says:

Awesome! Shame about the bird shit :\

15th Jul 2013, 15:44

billion says:

birds, eh? no damn respect...

15th Jul 2013, 21:25