Google’s latest addition to their animated doodles, celebrates Heinrich Hertz’ 155th birthday. A German physicist, his experiments led to the discovery of electromagnetic waves which ultimately led to the development of the radio and the wireless telegraph.
Born in Hamburg, he was first apprenticed as a jeweler. He displayed remarkable aptitude for the sciences and not to mention, Arabic and Sanskrit. A true genius, he easily grasped the dynamics of physics while very young; he later enrolled to study the subject in Berlin.
At the age of 22, he earned his PHd – on electromagnetic induction in rotating spheres – from the University of Berlin. TWhen Hertz took up the position of a professor at Karlsruhe Technische Hochschule in 1885, he turned his attention to open electrical circuits. He demonstrated electromagnetic induction using a condenser discharging through an open loop.
In the course of doing this, he noticed something quite unfamiliar; something that he had never dealt with before – the emergence of ‘side-sparks’ in another nearby loop.
There, in Berlin, in 1886, he successfully generated and detected electromagnetic radiation – a feat that was not quite so simple but, seemed simple enough for the young 29-year-old physicist. By 1888, demonstrated that the electromagnetic emissions associated with these sparks behaved like waves.
The astounding discovery answered so many unanswered questions! It clarified and added new dimensions to the theory of electromagnetism that had been put forth by the British physicist James Clerk Maxwell in 1884.
Hertz’s name is now the common term used for radio and electrical frequencies – in hertz (Hz), kilohertz (kHz) and megahertz (MHz).
Heinrich Hertz died in Bonn, Germany in 1894 after being detected with Wegener’s granulomatosis, a disorder in which blood vessels become inflamed, and subsequently effetcs the nose, lungs and kidneys. He was buried in Ohlsdorf, Hamburg.