Physicists Biographies

Hans Christian Oersted

Hans Christian Oersted was an important 18th century scholar who paved the way for the development of electromagnetism.

Oersted’s experiment paved the way for the development of electromagnetism
Hans Christian Oersted was a scholar who was born in Denmark in 1777. The son of a pharmacist, Oersted studied Pharmacy at the University of Copenhagen and came to work at the Farmácia do Leão, a traditional trade in the city.

From 1804 Oersted began teaching physics and chemistry at the University of Copenhagen, becoming a full professor in 1817. He was also secretary for life of the Copenhagen Academy of Sciences, knight of the important Order of Dannebrog of Denmark and founder of the Society for the Development of the Study of Sciences and the Polytechnic School.

At the time of Oersted, electric and magnetic phenomena were still understood as independent, however, the scientific community was already looking for evidence of a relationship between magnetism and electricity . In 1820, Oersted carried out an experiment that proved the intimate relationship between the two phenomena, thus paving the way for the development of electromagnetism .

Oersted experiment

When placing a conducting wire near a compass , Oersted noticed that, in the presence of an electric current , the magnetic needle of the compass suffered deflections. These deflections disappeared only when the flow of electrical charges was stopped.

Oersted’s experiment led to the manufacture of the Galvanometer, an instrument composed of a magnetized needle that undergoes deflection if there is an electric current flowing through any circuit .

Hans Christian Oersted died in 1851 and was buried in Assistens Cemetery in Copenhagen. The scholar was largely honored because of his important contributions to science. In August 2009, Google celebrated his birth by releasing a themed logo dedicated to the scientist.

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