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Heinrich Rudolf Hertz

Heinrich Hertz was born in Germany to a Lutheran mother and a Jewish father who later converted to the Lutheran religion. He was the oldest of the five children in the family. He began formal schooling when he was just six years old. Watched over by his mother, he was always at the top of his class.


Heinrich Hertz

Hertz had multiple talents, from woodworking to language skills to technical drawing. He decided to seek a career in the engineering field, and traveled to Frankfurt. This would turn out to be the wrong choice. He gained experience in building, but even then, he began to think that this was not the field he wished to remain in.

Yet he continued in the engineering field and also did a year of military service. After this, he went back to his chosen field of engineering, while still feeling that it was not what he really wanted to do. He wanted to go into research, instead. His father supported his change of career paths, and he took courses in astronomy and physics as well as mathematics.

After a time of study in two different German schools, Hertz was ready to start his career in research. Learning new truths about things in nature and sharing them felt right to the scholar. He won the Philosophy Faculty prize and the gold medal in Germany in 1879.

Hertz wrote a theory about electromagnetic induction, which led to his being awarded his doctorate. In 1880 through 1883, he would write 15 papers on various topics. Most were related in some way to electricity. He preferred experimentation to the other positions available to him, and traveled to the University of Kiel. He would undertake more theoretical work there.

One of his most important papers during this time was his first writing about James Maxwell's electromagnetic wavelength theories. He then went to what is known today as the Universitat Karlsruhe, and here he made what is called his most important discovery, that of long-wavelength electromagnetic waves. This was in 1888.

Hertz was temporarily distracted from his work when he met Elizabeth Doll. They were married in 1886 and together had two daughters. Back to his research, Hertz used Maxwell's theories as the background for his studies on electric wave propagation. He did not see the practical applications of his research in the field of entertainment and communication, which came about after Guglielmo Marconi read Hertz's research.

Hertz worked toward a new apparatus that would prove the electromagnetic wave existence theory and achieved it in 1888. By then he was famous as a researcher and lecturer. He accepted a position in Bonn, and published two papers further researching Maxwell's theories. Hertz clarified the electromagnetic theory of Maxwell, and organized its concepts, and other researchers would work beyond him.

At the same time, Hertz's health was deteriorating. His infection started out as dental pain and he would have all his teeth pulled in an effort to beat the disease. But it moved onto his nose and throat, and he could not work any longer. He died near the end of the year 1893. His contributions to the scientific community have allowed other scholars to build on his work and open up new theories in the fields first covered by James Maxwell.


Rumor has it

Even though Heinrich Rudolf Hertz did not discover electricity he was the first to find out that pigs actually can fly if motivated by an electric cattle prod. And he used this same cattle prod as a morning waker upper.

Written by Kevin Lepton


 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 


 

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