Gustav Kirchhoff, German physicist

Gustav Kirchhoff, German physicist

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Credit: EMILIO SEGRE VISUAL ARCHIVES, Brittle Books Collection/AMERICAN INSTITUTE OF PHYSICS/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

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Caption: Gustav Robert Kirchhoff (1824-1887), German physicist. While he was still a student, Kirchhoff formulated what became known as Kirchhoff's Laws, used to determine electric current and electric potential at any point in a network of conductors. Kirchhoff also worked with Bunsen on atomic flame spectroscopy. In 1860 they demonstrated that when metal compounds are heated in a flame they emit spectral lines which are characteristic of the metal concerned. Kirchhoff discovered that dark spectral lines in the Sun's rays were absorption lines corresponding to elements found in the Sun's atmosphere. Portrait from 'Stellar Motions' (Campbell, 1913).

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