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Technische Hochschule Nürnberg Georg Simon Ohm

Georg Simon Ohm


Professor for mathematics und physics at the "Königliche Polytechnische Schule Nürnberg" (Royal Polytechnic School of Nuremberg) from 1833 to 1849, chancellor from 1839 to 1849.

Georg Simon Ohm was born in Erlangen on March 16, 1789 and was the son of the university's locksmith. His father must have been an extraordinary person. During his spare time he studied philosophy, and even in his later life he took a great interest in studying mathematics with his two sons Georg Simon and Martin.

Teacher and researcher

After leaving high school at the age of 16, Georg Simon attended the university, then moved to Switzerland to work as a private teacher. After returning home, he received his Ph.D. after completing his thesis entitled "About light and colors." His first book, which he hoped would gain him recognition in the scientific community, was a failure.
When Prussia set up a new school system in Cologne, Georg Simon Ohm moved there, taking over the collection of physical instruments from the Jesuits' college and teaching mathematics and physics. He spent most of his salary on replacing old physics equipment and experimenting in the chemistry laboratory. In early 1821 he discovered the important interaction between current intensity, voltage and conductor resistance - Ohm's law, as it is still called today: voltage equals current intensity times resistance.

The genius as civil servant

Unlike his contemporaries, Ohm quickly realized the universal importance of what he had derived experimentally. He went on a one-year sabbatical, moved to Berlin, where his brother was a professor and wrote a book entitled "The Galvanic Chain mathematically revised," which would not become famous until years later. Ohm´s consistent rejection of the natural philosophy treatment of electricity was not well-received. On the contrary, he was criticized for "pointless playing with mathmatical symbols." After several years Ohm became a physics professor at the "Königlich-bayerisches Polytechnikum" (Royal Bavarian Polytechnic) in Nuremberg which he later headed as president from 1839 to 1849.

Late fame for a great man

In 1841 the Royal Society in London honored Ohm with the Copley medal, which then carried the same significance as the Nobel prize does today. Only one German scientist, Carl Friedrich Gauss, had received this honor before him. The same year Ohm became a member of the Academia di Turino, and in 1842 a foreign member of the Royal Society in London. Thus, the eccentric who used to be seen out walking his spitz in the forests on the outskirts of Nuremberg finally became an internationally recognized and well-known expert. Though late, he was inundated with honors in his own country. These years of success encouraged him to work on new scientific problems, especially in the field of acoustics. His "Theory of Sounds," explaining the modulation of sounds as a result of overriding waves, was rejected. When Herman von Helmholtz described his sound analyses just 15 years later, Ohm´s theory was ascribed to him. The only well-known portrait shows the scientist in his later years in Munich, Bavaria's capital, with the decorative cross of the Maximilian Order for Arts and Sciences. In 1849 King Maximilian II of Bavaria appointed Ohm  the second curator for mathematical and physical collectables in Bavaria. In 1852 he was appointed professor for physics and mathematics heading the physics department of the University of Munich. At the same time Ohm was appointed coordinator of the telegraph administration. In 1850 he was awarded the "Freedom of the Town" by the city of Nuremberg. Two years after his late recognition the physicist died after suffering a stroke at the age of 65 and was buried in the old South Cemetary in Munich. In 1881 he was granted the highest honor by the Electrical World Congress: His name was made the international unit of electrical resistance, indicated by the capital omega.

Eponym of our university

The Technical University of Munich erected a memorial in his honor, the German Museum exhibited his instruments and in 1933 the State Academy for Applied Sciences in Nuremberg was renamed "Ohm-Polytechnikum Nürnberg," commemorating its one hundredth anniversary. The University of Applied Sciences Nuremberg was officially renamed "Georg-Simon-Ohm-Fachhochschule Nürnberg" by the Bavarian state parliament after the Ohm Polytechnic Institute had been incorporated as a field of engineering education in 1971.

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