Google doodles Heinrich Hertz’s 155th

The electromagentics pioneer whose work led to radio and TV broadcasts
Darren Allan

February 22, 2012
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Google has posted up another doodle on its home page.

This one is in celebration of the 155th anniversary of Heinrich Hertz, the famous physicist whose work in the field of electromagnetic waves led to the unit of frequency (Hz) being named after him.

Hertz is the frequency of occurrence of a phenomenon measured in terms of a second, ie the amount of cycles per second.

The doodle is an animated one, albeit not one of the fancier affairs we’ve seen, showing an oscillating wave pulsing across the screen.

Hertz was born in 1857 in Hamburg into a well-to-do family, his father being a lawyer and in later life a senator.

After a false-start of a career in engineering, Hertz went back to study physics in Munich and Berlin, and went on to become professor of physics at Karlsruhe Polytechnic.

It was here that he tested British scientist James Maxwell’s theory that electromagnetic waves existed, and Hertz managed to conduct the first experiment to generate and detect such waves.

Hertz didn’t realise what his discovery meant at the time, however. He famously said that he didn’t think that the “wireless waves I have discovered” would have any real “practical application”.

Of course, Hertz’s work opened up a huge new field in communications and entertainment, facilitating radio and TV broadcasts, along with applications such as radar.

Hertz passed away in 1894. The unit of frequency was named after him in 1930, in recognition of the importance of his work in the 1880s.

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