Biography - Georg Simon Ohm

          Georg Simon Ohm is credited with developing the first empirical relationship between voltage, current and the resistance of a conductor.  This relationship popularly known as Ohm’s law is one of the basic rules of Electrical Engineering. It is also the first step in electric circuit analysis.

          Georg Simon Ohm (1789 – 1854) was born in Elagen, Bavaria in Germany. He had his early education at the the Elagen Gymnasium.  In 1805, he joined the University of Erlagen and later moved to Switzerland where he took up the job of a Mathematics teacher.  He obtained his doctorate from the University of Erlagen in 1811.  He then took up various teaching positions in Germany.

          Ohm, however, was not satisfied with his teaching career which was not particularly well paying.  He strived to make his mark in research and establish his credentials as a scholar.   Towards this end, he wrote a book on elementary geometry.  Ohm had sent a copy of the manuscript to to King Wilhelm III of Prussia.  The King was pleased and offered him a position at the Jesuit Gymnasium at Cologne. 

          The position suited Ohm well as the institution had extensive facilities for research in Physics.  Ohm soon involved himself with research in the field of current electricity.  The Italian Alessandro Volta had invented the battery and Ohm found himself drawn into studies into the flow of electricity in substances.

          He published his findings in 1827 in the  his famous book Die galvanische Kette mathematischbearbeitet (translated as The Galvanic Circuit Investigated Mathematically).  The publication, however brought him little recognition or appreciation. Disappointed, Ohm resigned his position at the Jesuit Gymnasium and joined the Polytechnic School at Nuremberg.

          While Ohm was able to give an empirical relationship for the relation between voltage, current and resistance, he was unable to give a convincing mathematical proof.  This was one reason for his not getting the recognition he rightly  deserved.    In those days, electrical technology was principle a science of the laboratory with little practical applications.  A sound mathematical proof was essential to convince the scientific fraternity. 

          Finally in 1841, the Royal Society in London recognized his work and honoured him with the Copley medal.  He was admitted to the Society the following year.  1849, Ohm was offered the position of Professor of Experimental Physics at the University of Munich.  He died in 1854 in Munich at the age of 65.

          Though largely ignored during his lifetime, the discovery of George Simon Ohm is fundamental to Electrical Engineering.  The relationship he discovered is one of the most used formulae by an Electrical Engineer.

          In 1893, the International Electrical Congress named the unit of electrical resistance, the ohm, in his honour.

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