Even the best of their field have their idols, and Einstein was no exception. On his study wall in Berlin he hung images of three of his predecessors: Isaac Newton, whose theory of gravity made him a giant of the seventeenth-century scientific revolution; Michael Faraday, English physicist and chemist who discovered electromagnetic induction in 1831; and the nineteenth-century Scottish physicist James Clerk Maxwell.

The pioneering ideas and experiments of all three men fed into Einstein’s own work but he appears to have felt most indebted to the latter, proclaiming that "The special theory of relativity owes its origins to Maxwell's equations of the electromagnetic field.”