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Oct 11, 2005
This week's theme
Eponyms (words coined after people's names)

This week's words
Heath Robinson

James Clerk Maxwell
James Clerk Maxwell
Engraving from the book The Scientific Papers of James Clerk Maxwell, 1890

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Maxwellian (maks-WEL-i-an) adjective

Of or relating to James Clerk Maxwell or his equations and theory in electromagnetism and other fields.

[After James Clerk Maxwell, Scottish physicist (1831-1879).]

Maxwellian (maks-WEL-i-an) adjective

Of or relating to shady business practices, financial tricks, misuse of public funds, etc.

In the US we had Ken Lay and friends from Enron; across the pond in the UK, there was Ian Robert Maxwell (1923-1991). Maxwell was a Czechoslovakian-born British publisher who became notorious for misusing his employees' pension funds of some 400 million pounds. He also engaged in dubious transactions between his private companies and a public company to prop them up and boost the share prices.

For his resilience to rebound after a castigating government report, he earned the nickname the Bouncing Czech.

"Admittedly, the case is complex -- 'potentially Maxwellian' is how one forensic accountant described it."
Jim Armitage; Independent Insurance Collapsed Four Years Ago; Evening Standard (London, UK); Feb 4, 2005.


If, after I depart this vale, you ever remember me and have thought to please my ghost, forgive some sinner and wink your eye at some homely girl. -H.L. Mencken, writer, editor, and critic (1880-1956)

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