The Profile of Georg Ohm


George Simon Ohm was a German physicist and mathematician born in 1789.  Serving as a school teacher, Simon began his research on the new electrochemical cell, which was invented by an Italian scientist Alessandro Volta. 

As a result, he came up with his own equipment, which led to one of the most prolific discoveries in the 18th century. The Ohm’s law and the Ohm are named after him, which is the standard unit of electrical resistance. So let’s dig a bit deeper and see how Gorge Ohm managed to stand out amongst the best during his era.

Early Life

Although not much is known about George ohm but according to history, he was born in Erlangen into a Protestant family. He was a son to Johann Wolfgang Ohm, a locksmith, and Maria Elizabeth Beck, the daughter of a tailor in Erlangen. 

Despite the fact that his parents did not receive formal education but his father was a much-respected individual having educated himself to a high level and ensuring that his sons received excellent education through his teachings. 

In total, there were seven children, amongst which only three survived. It was Georg Simon and his younger brother Martin and his sister Elizabeth Barbara. Unfortunately, as he turned ten, Georg’s mother passed away. 

From early childhood, both Georg and Martin were taught by their father who brought them to a high standard in mathematics, chemistry, physics, and philosophy. From the age of eleven to fifteen, Georg Simon attended the Erlangen Gymnasium where he received little scientific training and sharply contrasted with the teachings of their father. 

Life in University

Life in University

Soon, Georg ohm father assumed that he was wasting his time and educational opportunity and therefore, sent him to Switzerland. Having arrived in Switzerland, he accepted a position as the teacher of mathematics in a school located in Gottstadt bei Nidau. 

Meanwhile, in 1809, Karl Christian von Langsdorf had left the University of Erlangen to assume a position in the University of Heidelberg. As a result, Ohm wanted to restart his mathematical studies with Langsdorf in Heidelberg. 

However, Ohm was advised by Langsdorf to study on his own. At the same time, he suggested Ohm read the likes of Lacroix, Euler, and Laplace. Ohm accepted his advice but later left his position in Gottstatt Monastery to become a private tutor in 1809. 

For two years, he followed Langsdorf’s advice and continued his private study. Then, the year 1811 saw him returning to the University of Erlangen. 

Teaching Career

Ohm’s self-study led him to receive his doctorate from the University of Erlangen in 1811. Although he immediately joined the university as a mathematics lecturer but left after three semesters due to unpromising prospects. 

At the time, he could not survive on his salary as a lecturer. In 1813, the Bavarian government offered him a post of being a mathematics and physics teacher at a poor-quality school in Bamberg, which he gladly accepted. 

However, he soon was unhappy and began writing an elementary textbook to showcase his abilities. The school was closed in 1816. As a result, Ohm was sent to an overcrowded school in Bamberg to help teach mathematics. Upon his assignment in Bamberg, Ohm sent his completed manuscript to Prussia’s King Wilhelm III. 

The King was satisfied with Ohm’s work and offered him a position at the Jesuit Gymnasium of Cologne. This school carried a good reputation in science and Ohm was asked to teach physics in addition to mathematics. 

The physics laboratory was well-equipped and Ohm began his physics experiments. Since he was the son of a locksmith, Ohm was already familiar with most mechanical devices. In 1827, Ohm published “The Galvanic Circuit Investigated Mathematically”. 

However, his college did not appreciate his work and therefore, he left it. He then applied at the Polytechnic School of Nuremberg where Ohm became a professor in 1852 of experimental physics at the University of Munich. 

Then, in 1849 Ohm published “Molecular Physics”. He stated that in the preface of this work, he hoped to write a second, third and fourth volume if he lived long enough. However, after finding that a Swedish scientist was already anticipating an original discovery recording, he did not publish it. 

Discovery of Ohm’s Law

The George ohm law first appeared in the book “The Galvanic Circuit Investigated Mathematically”. The book features his complete theory of electricity. In his work, he discussed his law for the electromotive force acting between a circuit’s extremities of any part is the product of the current’s strength along with the resistance of that part of the circuit. 

His book begins with mathematical background to help understand the rest of his work. Although his work had a great influence on the theory and application of current electricity but it merely received any attention at the time. 

Ohm believed that the electricity communication occurred between the “contagious particles”. The paper is mostly based on this idea and highlights the differences in his scientific approach to Joseph Fourier and Claude-Louis Navier. 

Final Word

Ohm passed away in 1854. Apart from his book, the publications and studies played a huge role in the development of the theory and application of electric current. Initially, his theory received a cold welcome but later his work was recognized by the Royal Society leading to a Copley Medal in 1841. Today, Gorg Ohm is not only remembered for his achievements but also for the work he had left behind to inspire upcoming scientists and mathematicians. 

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