Heinrich Hertz and the Foundations of Electromagnetism

Barry R. Masters

Heinrich Rudolf Hertz did not grasp the practical importance of his work during his lifetime, but his research into electromagnetic radiation laid the foundation for all wireless communications. The education and experience of this 19th century German scientist prepared him to make his monumental discoveries on propagating electromagnetic waves.


figurePortrait of Heinrich Hertz.

Anyone in the scientific world is familiar with the word “hertz” as the internationally accepted measurement of frequency—but they may know less about the man for whom that unit was named. Born in Germany in 1857, Heinrich Hertz lived a short life—he died just short of his 37th birthday—but in that time he made numerous important contributions to the study of electromagnetism. Hertz generated, detected and characterized propagating traverse electromagnetic waves in space, determining their velocity and showing their capacity for rectilinear propagation, reflection, refraction and polarization.

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Publish Date: 01 June 2011

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