Georg Simon Ohm

Biography of Georg Simon Ohm

German physicist and mathematician, Georg Simon Ohm was born on 16 March 1789 to Johann Wolfgang Ohm and Maria Elizabeth Beck. When he was a school teacher, Ohm started his research with the new electrochemical cell which was invented by Italian scientist Alessandro Volta. Using the equipment of his own creation, Ohm found that the potential difference (voltage) applied across a conductor is direct proportional to the resultant electric current. This relationship is known as Ohm’s law. He died on 6 July 1854 at the age of 65 in Munich.

Of the seven children of the family only three survived to adulthood: Ohm, his younger brother Martin, who later became a well-known mathematician, and his sister Elizabeth Barbara. Ohm’s father was a distinguished man who had taught himself to a high level and was able to give his sons an outstanding education through his own teachings in mathematics, physics, chemistry and philosophy. Ohm’s father was concerned that his son was wasting his educational opportunity so he sent Ohm to Switzerland. There Ohm accepted a position as a mathematics teacher at a school in Gottstadt bei Nidau in September 1806. He received his doctorate from the University of Erlangen on October 25, 1811.

Ohm’s law first appeared in the famous book ‘The Galvanic Circuit Investigated Mathematically in 1827 in which he gave his complete theory of electricity. Regarding this work, he specified his law that for electromotive force acting between the extremities of any part of a circuit is the result of the power of the current and the resistance of that part of the circuit. The book starts with the mathematical background required for an understanding of the rest of the work. While his work significantly influenced the theory and applications of current electricity, it was not well received during that moment. Ohm believed that the communication of electricity occurred among “contiguous particles”, the term he himself used. The paper is concerned with this idea, specifically in illustrating the differences in this scientific approach of Ohm’s and the approaches of Joseph Fourier and Claude-Louis Navier.

He has numerous of writing. The most important was his pamphlet published in Berlin in 1827, with the heading ‘Die galvanische Kette mathematisch bearbeitet’, which had put forth an important guidance on the expansion of the theory and applications of electric current. Moreover Ohm’s name has been incorporated in the terms of electrical science in Ohm’s Law, the proportionality relation between current and voltage in a resistor, and took on as the SI unit of resistance, the ohm with the symbol Ω.

Even though Ohm’s work strongly influenced the electric current theory, initially it was not well received. Nevertheless, in the long run in 1841 his work was acknowledged by the Royal Society with its award of the Copley Medal. In 1842 He became a foreign member of the Royal Society, and he also in 1845 became an official member of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences and Humanities. At some extent, Charles Wheatstone drew attention to the definitions which Ohm had acquainted with in the subject of physics.


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