Hans Christian Oersted, Danish physicist

Hans Christian Oersted, Danish physicist

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Credit: COLLECTION ABECASIS/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Hans Christian Oersted (1777-1851). 1864 illustration of the Danish physicist Hans Christian Oersted. Oersted studied pharmaceutics and the physical sciences in Copenhagen, Denmark, where he later became professor of physics in 1806. In 1820 he showed that the needle of a magnetic compass is deflected when electric current passes through a wire close by. His experiment is seen as the foundation of the study of electromagnetism. His discovery (published in 1820) resulted in much study of the phenomenon. Until then, Coulomb's opinion that electricity and magnetism were independent forces had been widely accepted. A magnetic field unit is named after Oersted.

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