Weber, Wilhelm Eduard

Weber, Wilhelm Eduard
SUBJECT AREA: Electricity
b. 24 October 1804 Wittenberg, Germany
d. 23 June 1891 Göttingen, Germany
German physicist, the founder of precise measurement of electrical quantities.
Weber began scientific experiments at an early age and entered the University of Halle, where he came under the influence of J.S.C.Schweigger, inventor of the galvanometer. Completing his education with a dissertation on the theory of organ pipes and making important contributions to the science of acoustics, he was awarded a lectureship and later an assistant professorship at Halle. Weber was offered the Chair of Physics at Göttingen in 1831 and jointly with Gauss began investigations into the precision measurement of magnetic quantities. In 1841 he invented the electrodynamometer type of electrical measuring instrument. This was a development of the galvanometer in which, instead of a needle, a small coil was suspended within an outer coil. A current flowing through both coils tended to turn the inner coil, the sine of the angle through which the suspending wires were twisted being proportional to the square of the strength of the current. A variation of the electrodynamometer was capable of measuring directly the power in electrical circuits.
The introduction by Weber of a system of absolute units for the measurement of electrical quantities was a most important step in electrical science. He had a considerable influence on the British Association committees on electrical standards organized in 1861 to promote a coherent system of electrical units. Weber's ideas also led him to define elementary electric particles, ascribing mass and charge to them. His name was used for a time before 1883 as the unit of electric current, until the name "ampere" was proposed by Helmholtz. Since 1948 the term "weber" has been used for the SI unit of magnetic flux.
Principal Honours and Distinctions
FRS 1850. Royal Society Copley Medal 1859.
1892–4, William Weber's Werke, 6 vols, Berlin.
Further Reading
P.Lenard, 1954, Great Men of Science, London, pp. 263–70 (a reliable, short biography). C.C.Gillispie (ed.), 1976, Dictionary of Scientific Biography, Vol. XIV, New York, pp.
203–9 (discusses his theoretical contributions).
S.P.Bordeau, 1982, Volts to Herz, Minneapolis, pp. 172 and 181 (discusses Weber's influence on contemporary scientists).

Biographical history of technology. - Taylor & Francis e-Librar. . 2005.

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