Electric Current
Electricity and Magnetism

Ampère’s early achievements

Stories from Physics for 11-14 14-16 IOP RESOURCES

Ampère’s father was a follower of Jean-Jacques Rosseau’s model of education whereby students learn from nature rather than from direct teaching. Instead of securing tutors for his son, Ampère’s father left the young scientist to educate himself within a well-stocked library. This approach seemed to work – by the age of 12, Ampère was studying advanced mathematics.

Among Ampère’s many contributions to science are an early version of the periodic table and a description of bonding based on the geometrical shapes of molecules. In addition, Ampère developed a model of magnetism as the circulation of electric currents within molecules, arguing, “One can consider each molecule as a small voltaic pile in which the currents, entering by one extremity of the molecule and leaving by the opposite end, come together across the space around the first of these two extremities, thus forming a closed solenoid.” It was not until 1915 that his model of magnetism finally received experimental support from a paper co-authored by Einstein.


Limit Less Campaign

Support our manifesto for change

The IOP wants to support young people to fulfil their potential by doing physics. Please sign the manifesto today so that we can show our politicians there is widespread support for improving equity and inclusion across the education sector.

Sign today