Saturday, October 24, 2009

October 24: Wilhelm Eduard Weber

Wilhelm Eduard Weber
October 24, 1804 – June 23, 1891

Wilhelm Weber was a German physicist and, together with Carl Friedrich Gauss, inventor of the first electromagnetic telegraph.

During 1831, on the recommendation of Carl Friedrich Gauss, he was hired by the University of Göttingen as professor of physics, at the age of twenty-seven. His lectures were interesting, instructive, and suggestive. Weber thought that, in order to thoroughly understand physics and apply it to daily life, mere lectures, though illustrated by experiments, were insufficient, and he encouraged his students to experiment themselves, free of charge, in the college laboratory.

As a student of twenty years he, with his brother, Ernst Heinrich Weber, Professor of Anatomy at Leipzig, had written a book on the Wave Theory and Fluidity, which brought its authors a considerable reputation. Acoustics was a favourite science of his, and he published numerous papers upon it in Poggendorffs Annalen, Schweigger's Jahrbücher für Chemie und Physik, and the musical journal Carcilia. The 'mechanism of walking in mankind' was another study, undertaken in conjunction with his younger brother, Eduard Weber. These important investigations were published between the years 1825 and 1838. Gauss and Weber constructed the first electromagnetic telegraph during 1833, which connected the observatory with the institute for physics in Göttingen.

Dismissed by the Hanoverian Government for his liberal political opinions, Weber travelled for a time, visiting England, among other countries, and became professor of physics in Leipzig from 1843 to 1849, when he was reinstalled at Göttingen. One of his most important works was the Atlas des Erdmagnetismus ("atlas of geomagnetism"), a series of magnetic maps, and it was chiefly through his efforts that magnetic observatories were instituted. He studied magnetism with Gauss, and during 1864 published his Electrodynamic Proportional Measures containing a system of absolute measurements for electric currents, which forms the basis of those in use.

He was elected a foreign member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences during 1855.

The Lunar crater Weber and the SI unit of magnetic flux, the weber (symbol: Wb) are named in his honor. He is also known for first use of 'c' for speed of light.

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