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Heinrich Rudolf Hertz

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Heinrich Rudolf Hertz (February 22, 1857 - January 1, 1894), was the physicist for whom the hertz, the SI unit of frequency, is named. In 1888, he was the first to demonstrate the existence of electromagnetic radiation by building apparatus to produce radio waves.

Hertz was born in Hamburg, to a Jewish family that had converted to Christianity. His father was an advocate in Hamburg, his mother the daughter of a doctor. While at school, he showed an aptitude for sciences as well as languages, learning Arabic and Sanskrit. He studied sciences and engineering in Dresden, Munich and Berlin. He was a student of Gustav R. Kirchhoff and Hermann von Helmholtz. He obtained his PhD in 1880, and remained a pupil of Helmholtz until 1883 when he took a post as a lecturer in theoretical physics at the University of Kiel[?].

Following Michelson's 1881 experiment (precursor to the 1887 Michelson-Morley experiment) which disproved the existence of Luminiferous aether he rederived Maxwell's equations, to take the new discovery into account.

His experiments proved that electric signals can travel through open air, as had been predicted by James Maxwell and Michael Faraday, which is the basis for the invention of radio.

He died in Bonn.

See also Röntgen, Wilhelm, Hans Christian Ørsted, Guglielmo Marconi

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