BIOGRAPHY OF GEORG SIMON OHM (1789-1854)
died July 06, 1854, Munich, Germany.
Georg Simon Ohm was a German physicist born in Erlangen, Bavaria, on March 16, 1789. As a high school teacher, Ohm started his research with the recently invented electrochemical cell, invented by Italian Count Alessandro Volta. Using equipment of his own creation, Ohm determined that the current that flows through a wire is proportional to its cross sectional area and inversely proportional to its length or Ohm's law. He became professor at the college at Cologne in 1817.
Ohmís main interest was current electricity, which had recently been advanced by Alessandro Voltaís invention of the battery. Ohm made only a modest living and as a result his experimental equipment was primitive. Despite this, he made his own metal wire, producing a range of thickness and lengths of remarkable consistent quality. The nine years he spent at the Jesuitís college, he did considerable experimental research on the nature of electric circuits. He took considerable pains to be brutally accurate with every detail of his work. In 1827, he was able to show from his experiments that there was a simple relationship between resistance, current and voltage.
"Ohm the Genius! the Mozart of Electricity ..."
Using the results of his experiments, Georg Simon Ohm was able to define the fundamental relationship between voltage, current, and resistance. These fundamental relationships are of such great importance, that they represent the true beginning of electrical circuit analysis.
Unfortunately, when Ohm published his finding in 1827, his ideas were dismissed by his colleagues. Ohm was forced to resign from his high-school teaching position and he lived in poverty and shame until he accepted a position at Nuremberg in 1833 and although this gave him the title of professor, it was still not the university post for which he had strived all his life. In 1852 Ohm became professor of experimental physics in the university of Munich, where he later died.
Ohmís law stated that the amount of steady current through a material is directly proportional to the voltage across the material, for some fixed temperature: I = V/R Ohm had discovered the distribution of electromotive force in an electrical circuit, and had established a definite relationship connecting resistance, electromotive force and current strength.
Ohm was afraid that the purely experimental basis of his work would undermine the importance of his discovery. He tried
to state his law theoretically but his rambling mathematically proofs made him an object of ridicule. In the years that
followed, Ohm lived in poverty, tutoring privately in Berlin. He would receive no credit for his findings until he was
made director of the Polytechnic School of Nuremberg in 1833. In 1841, the Royal Society in London recognized the
significance of his discovery and awarded him the Copley medal. The following year, they admitted him as a member.
In 1849, just 5 years before his death, Ohmís lifelong dream was realized when he was given a professorship of
Experimental Physics at the University of Munich. On July 6th, 1854 he passed away in Munich, at the age of 65.
This belated recognition was welcome but there remains the question of why someone who today is a household name for his important contribution struggled for so long to gain acknowledgement. This may have no simple explanation but rather be the result of a number of different contributory factors. One factor may have been the inwardness of Ohm's character while another was certainly his mathematical approach to topics which at that time were studied in his country a non-mathematical way. There was undoubtedly also personal disputes with the men in power which did Ohm no good at all. He certainly did not find favor with Johannes Schultz who was an influential figure in the ministry of education in Berlin, and with Georg Friedrich Pohl, a professor of physics in that city.
Electricity was not the only topic on which Ohm undertook research, and not the only topic in which he ended up in controversy. In 1843 he stated the fundamental principle of physiological acoustics, concerned with the way in which one hears combination tones. However the assumptions which he made in his mathematical derivation were not totally justified and this resulted in a bitter dispute with the physicist August Seebeck. He succeeded in discrediting Ohm's hypothesis and Ohm had to acknowledge his error.
His writings were numerous.
The most important was his pamphlet published in Berlin in 1827, with the title: "Die galvanische Kette mathematisch bearbeitet". This work, the germ of which had appeared during the two preceding years in the journals of Schweigger and Poggendorff, has exerted an important influence on the development of the theory and applications of electric current. Ohm's name has been incorporated in the terminology of electrical science in Ohm's Law (which he first published in Die galvanische Kette...), the proportionality of current and voltage in a resistor, and adopted as the SI unit of resistance, the OHM .
* Grundlinien zu einer zweckma"?igen Behandlung der Geometrie als ho"heren Bildungsmittels an vorbereitenden Lehranstalten / entworfen (Guidelines for an appropriate treatment of geometry in higher education at preparatory institutes / notes)
Erlangen : Palm und Enke, 1817. - XXXII, 224 S., II Faltbl. : graph. Darst.
* Die galvanische Kette : mathematisch bearbeitet (The Galvanic Circuit Investigated Mathematically) Berlin : Riemann, 1827. - 245 S. : graph. Darst.
* Elemente der analytischen Geometrie im Raume am schiefwinkligen Coordinatensysteme (Elements of analytic geometry concerning the skew coordinate system)
Nu"rnberg : Schrag, 1849. - XII, 590 S. - (Ohm, Georg S.: Beitra"ge zur Molecular-Physik ; 1)
* Grundzu"ge der Physik als Compendium zu seinen Vorlesungen (Fundamentals of physics: Compendium of lectures) Nu"rnberg : Schrag, 1854. - X, 563 S. : Ill., graph. Darst. Erschienen: Abth. 1 (1853) - 2 (1854)
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