Google Shines A Light On Hans Christian Oersted

It was interesting to see that Google today honored the birthday of Hans Christian Oersted, with one of their famous Google doodles.  Outside of the magnetics world, Oersted is probably not as well known as individuals like Michael Faraday and Nikola Tesla, and yet he is one of the founding fathers of electromagnetism.

Oersted was born in Denmark on this day in 1777.  He was a Professor of Physics at the University of Copenhagen when, in 1820, he noticed that when electric current from a battery was turned on and off, a nearby compass needle was deflected.  While he wasn’t the first to notice this effect, he was the first to engage in comprehensive research on the subject.  His findings showed that an electric current generated a magnetic field as it flowed through a wire.

Lesser known than his work on electromagnetism, are Oersted’s contributions to philosophy [he was the first to coin the term Gedankenexperiment or “thought experiment”] and to chemistry [he is credited with being the first person to isolate the element aluminium].  In honor of his contributions to the field, within the cgs system of measurement, the unit of magnetic induction is named the oersted


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