German

mathematician and

physicist, 1789-1854.

Georg Simon Ohm was born on March 16, 1789 in Erlangen, Bavaria. His father was a locksmith who had educated himself thoroughly in the fields of mathematics and science and he taught his children what the school system didn't in those fields. In 1805 Ohm entered the University of Erlangen to study mathematics, but instead he wound up spending most of his time on extra-curricular activities such as ice-skating. His father was furious to see his son waste this opportunity for education that he never got and sent Ohm to Switzerland where he became a mathematics teacher in September of 1806. In 1809 he left that job to become a private tutor in Neuchatel, where he stayed for two years while also studying mathematics by himself.

In April of 1811 Ohm returned to the University of Erlangen and received his doctorate in September of the same year. He took a poorly paid lecturing post at the University but left in 1813 as he saw no chance of getting a better position. He taught mathematics and physics in Bavarian schools from 1813 to 1817, when he received an offer to teach in the Jesuit Gymnasium in Cologne. This was a much better school than any he had taught in before and it had a good physics laboratory. He still continued his private mathematics studies, reading the works of the leading mathematicians of the time such as Legendre and Fourier. When he learned of Oersted's discovery of electromagnetism in 1820 he began experiments of his own in the school laboratory, initially just for his own personal education.

Although the Jesuit Gymnasium was a very good school when Ohm started to work there, its standards dropped with time and by 1825 Ohm decided to pursue a university professorship again. He realized that this had to happen through publication of research and therefore started to take his experiments more seriously, conducting them in such a way that he could publish the results.

Ohm's first paper, published in 1825, examined how electromagnetic force produced by a wire decreased as the length of the wire increased. The Jesuit Gymnasium gave him a year off work on half pay in August 1826 which he used to work on his research. In that year he published two papers dealing with conduction in circuits and galvanic electricity. The second paper was the first step to a comprehensive theory that appeared in his book *Die galvanische Kette, matematisch bearbeitet* (1827). A part of that theory was what we now know as Ohm's Law*. As the title suggests the book was heavily based on mathematics, in contrast to the conventional non-mathematical approach most other physicists were used to. This was the main reason that the book wasn't received as well as Ohm had hoped. He had been convinced that by the time he would have to return to the Jesuit Gymnasium he would have an offer from a university. No such offer arrived and thus a disappointed and hurt Georg Ohm resigned his position in Cologne and stayed in Berlin, teaching mathematics in temporary jobs there.

In 1833 he was finally offered a university post at Nüremberg and while it wasn't quite the position he had hoped for he accepted it. Recognition for his work eventually came in 1841 when the Royal Society in London awarded him with the Copley Medal and admitted him as a foreign member in the following year. He became a corresponding member in other academies such as Berlin and Turin, and was elected as a full member of the Bavarian Academy in 1845.

At Nüremberg Ohm started working on physiological acoustics, and in 1843 he stated what he believed was a fundamental principle for the subject. His mathematical derivation was somewhat flawed, however, and after a bitter dispute with physicist August Seebeck he was forced to admit to his error.

In 1849 Ohm became the curator of the Bavarian Academy's physics cabinet and began lecturing at the University of Munich. Finally in 1852 he got his lifelong dream fulfilled when he was made professor of experimental physics at the University. He died two years later, on July 7, 1854, in Munich.

* Ohm's Law states that the current that flows through a material is directly proportional to the voltage across the material: I=V/R (where I=current (A), V=voltage (V) and R=resistance (Ω)

Sources:

http://www-history.mcs.st-andrews.ac.uk/history/Mathematicians/Ohm.html

http://www.corrosion-doctors.org/Biographies/OhmBio.htm