Electric Current
Electricity and Magnetism

A very public discovery

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

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.


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