A very public discovery
Stories from Physics for 11-14 14-16
The first demonstration of the relationship between electricity and magnetism occurred in a public lecture. Hans Christian Ørsted is said to have developed an interest in science while working in his father’s pharmacy as a boy. While traveling in Europe, he met the German physicist Johann Ritter and began to research magnetism and electricity. As he was preparing to give a public demonstration of the heating effects of currents, it occurred to Ørsted that currents might also affect a compass. Not having time to test his hypothesis, he decided to try it out in his demonstration – it turned out that his hypothesis was correct.