Ampère’s early achievements
Stories from Physics for 11-14 14-16
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.