Sunday, July 26, 2020

Hans Christian Oersted: Danish physicist

Hans Christian Oersted (14 August 1777 – 9 March 1851) a distinguished Danish physicist and chemist was born in the town of Rudkobing, on the Danish island of Langeland, where his parents, Søren Christian and Karen (n´ee Hermansdatter), owned the local pharmacy. Because of family problems, Hans and his younger brother were placed with a German wigmaker while they were still young boys.

In 1794 the brothers, with no prior formal education, were accepted by the University of Copenhagen, where Hans studied astronomy, chemistry, mathematics, physics, and pharmacy. He completed his training in pharmacy in 1797. At age 22, in 1799, he graduated with a Ph.D. Between 1800 and 1820, he was a university teacher, researcher, publisher, and one of the most sought-after lecturers of his day.

Alessandro Volta discovered the galvanic battery in 1800, and this inspired Ørsted to ponder the nature of electricity and conduct his first electrical research experiments. Electromagnetism was discovered in the spring of 1820 by Oersted during a lecture to an advanced group of students, he demonstrated that electric current in a wire can deflect a magnetized compass needle, a phenomenon the importance of which was rapidly recognized and which inspired the development of electromagnetic theory.

By July of that year, he was certain that an electric current produced about it a circular magnetic field, and he published his results in a short paper, written in Latin, and carried by the major scientific journals of Europe.

Although he made no attempt to explain electromagnetic presence through mathematical formulas, Ørsted was credited with its discovery. Following this historic breakthrough, the pioneering field of electromagnetic study rapidly evolved, accompanied by a surge of new theories and fresh technological applications.

The Danish government funded Oersted to further his education in other European countries – he spent the years 1801 to 1803 in Germany and France.

Oersted's great discovery had an enormous impact on the scientific world. More than a hundred scientists published their comments and researches on electromagnetism within seven years of the discovery, and Oersted was showered with honors and awards. The Royal Society of London gave him the Copley Medal, and the French Academy awarded him a prize of 3000 gold francs.
Hans Christian Oersted: Danish physicist
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