Heinrich Hertz, German physicist

Heinrich Hertz, German physicist

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Credit: GARY BROWN/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Heinrich Rudolf Hertz (1857-1894), German physicist and discoverer of radio waves. Hertz studied at Berlin, gaining his PhD in 1880. He then moved to Kiel, where he started studies on electromagnetism. He used Maxwell's theories to construct an oscillating electrical circuit with a spark gap. With such a circuit, Maxwell had predicted that electromagnetic radiation would be produced. Hertz showed this to be correct, and devised a loop antenna to detect the waves. He was also able to show that these waves (later known as radio waves) travelled at the speed of light. The International System (SI) unit of frequency is named after Hertz.

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