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André-Marie Ampère

Subject: Biographies
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A. was the son of a wealthy merchant. He was raised by tutors and his genius appeared at a very young age. He proved to have a photographic memory. He remembered things he had read many years earlier. He was particularly successful in math. After he had married in 1799, he supported himself as a mathematics teacher in Lyon. In 1802 he moved to Bourg and later to Paris as professor of mathematics and physics at the Ecole centrale. A. is best known for having laid the mathematical foundations of electromagnetism. Oersteds had made the fundamental discovery that an electric current passing through a conductor can have a magnetic needle to move. A. immediately started its own investigations and about a week later he was able to give an account for their results. He tried to show that electric currents also affect one another as currents and magnets affect each other. This he demonstrated by letting two streams flow through two agile leaders. If the current flows in the same direction of the two leaders, they attract each other. If the current flows in opposite directions repel each other. He then continued by studying more complex configurations, for example, closed loops or spirals. He succeeded even making a mathematical analysis that allowed for quantitative calculations. Ampere has been honored with his name has given its name to both a law, Ampere's Law, which describes precisely the force between current carrying conductor, and the unit of electrical current.

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