Andre-Marie Ampere

The life of Andre Marie Ampere, the man who formulated the law of electromagntism often known as Ampere's Law and who gave his name to the Amp, the unit of electrical current.

Andre Marie Ampere was one of the pioneers of modern electronics. He effectively made the first electrical measuring intrument (electronic test equipment), thereby enabling people to understand how much current was flowing in a circuit. Along with his mathematical derivations of electricity, he made a truly major input to the early science of electricity.

Ampere's birth

Andre-Marie Ampere was born on 20th January 1775 in Lyon, France. From an early age he could be seen to be brilliant, mastering many aspects of mathematics by the age of 12. In 1801 he became professor of physics and chemistry at Bourg and eight years later he was invited to take up the post of professor of mathematics at Ecole Polytechnique in Paris.

Ampere's work

Ampere's major break though came in 1820 after he heard about the discovery that Hans Christian Oersted had made in observing that a magnetic needle was deflected when placed near a current carrying cable. Ampere was given to sudden flashes of inspiration. True to form he developed a relationship between electricity and magnetism within a week and he had prepared a paper for publication.

Ampere formulated a law of electromagnetism, often called Ampere's Law that mathematically describes the magnetic force between two currents. In addition to this he undertook many experiments from which he managed to explain some electromagnetic phenomena that had been observed.

However one of the major reasons why he is associated with electric currents in particular is that he was the first person to develop an instrument to measure the magnitude of the current flowing in a conductor. This was of immense importance because up until this time no quantitative work had been possible and this opened up the way for a far greater understanding of electricity and current flow. In later work by other scientists this instrument was caleld a galvanometer.

Last years

Ampere died in Marseilles on 10th June 1836. In recognition of the importance of his work, the unit of current was named after him.



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