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Fascinating facts about Heinrich Rudolf Hertz, who proved that electricity can be transmitted in electromagnetic waves which led to the development of wireless telegraph and the radio. Heinrich Hertz
Inventor: Heinrich Rudolf Hertz
Portrait of Heinrich Hertz derived from public domain
Criteria: First to invent. First practical.
Birth: February 22, 1857 in Hamburg, Germany
Death: January 1, 1894 in Bonn, Germany
Nationality: German

Heinrich Rudolf Hertz, German physicist, born in Hamburg, and educated at the University of Berlin.  From 1885 to 1889 he was a professor of physics at the technical school in Karlsruhe and after 1889 a professor of physics at the University in Bonn.  Hertz clarified and expanded the electromagnetic theory of light that had been put forth by the British physicist James Clerk Maxwell in 1884.  Hertz proved that electricity can be transmitted in electromagnetic waves, which travel at the speed of light and which possess many other properties of light.  His experiments with these electromagnetic waves led to the development of the wireless telegraph and the radio. 

His name also became the term used for radio and electrical frequencies: hertz (Hz), as in kilohertz (kHz) or megahertz (MHz). The hertz designation has been an official part of the international metric system since 1933. Before Hertz gained professorships in Karlsruhe and Bonn, he had studied under the famous scientist Hermann von Helmholtz in Bonn, and it was Helmholtz who encouraged Hertz to attempt to win the science prize that led to some of Hertz's most important discoveries. From 1885 to 1889 Hertz became the first person to broadcast and receive radio waves, and to establish the fact that light was a form of electromagnetic radiation. (The Italian Marconi didn't begin his own wireless experiments until 1894, based on the earlier work of Hertz, Maxwell, and others.) Hertz probably would have gone on to make many more scientific contributions, but he died quite young, less than a month before his 37th birthday. 


History of Electricity   from The Great Idea Finder

The German Way
by Hyde Flippo / Paperback: 144 pages / Contemporary Books; (May 11, 1996)

Complete with a bibliography and index, The German Way provides keen insights into the rich variety of customs and attitudes found in German-speaking countries. Whether you are a student, tourist, or business traveler, this book will help you break the cultural barrier - and appreciate the way things are done in the German-speaking world.
The Creation of Scientific Effects: Heinrich Hertz and Electric Waves
by Jed Z. Buchwald / Paperback: 482 pages / University of Chicago Press; (August 1994)

Drawing on the lab notes, published papers, and unpublished manuscripts of Heinrich Hertz, Buchwald recreates Hertz's 1887 invention of a device that produced electromagnetic waves in wires.


Electrical History
Heinrich Hertz laid the ground work for the vacuum tube. He laid the foundation for the future development of radio, telephone, telegraph, and even television. He was one of the first people to demonstrate the existence of electric waves.
Heinrich Rudolf Hertz
This site has an extensive biography and experiment history. Heinrich Rudolf Hertz was the first to broadcast and receive radio waves in the laboratory. Between 1885 and 1889, he used spark discharges to produce electromagnetic waves.

Famous German People

Hertz probably would have gone on to make many more scientific contributions, but he died quite young, less than a month before his 37th birthday.
The Heinrich-Hertz-School
The physicist Heinrich Hertz, born in Hamburg (1857 - 1894), discovered electromagnetic waves. His scientific works formed the basis for radio and television technology. The Heinrich-Hertz-School is the only "kooperative Gesamtschule" in Hamburg. The school was founded in the year 1968.

Hertz, Heinrich
He confirmed J. C. Maxwell’s electromagnetic theory and in the course of experiments (1886–89) produced and studied electromagnetic waves  Lots of COOKIES and POP-UP ADS at this site.


Frequency is expressed in hertz (Hz); a frequency of 1 Hz means that there is 1 cycle or oscillation per second. The unit is named in honor of the German physicist Heinrich Rudolf Hertz, who first demonstrated the nature of electromagnetic wave propagation. Kilohertz (kHz), or thousands of cycles per second, megahertz (MHz), or millions of cycles per second, and gigahertz (GHz), or billions of cycles per second, are employed in describing certain high-frequency phenomena, such as radio waves. Radio waves and other types of electromagnetic radiation may be characterized either by their wavelengths, or by their frequencies. Electromagnetic waves of extremely high frequencies, such as light and X rays, are usually described in terms of their wavelength measure, which is often expressed in angstrom units (; hundred-millionths of a cm). An electromagnetic wave that has a wavelength of 1 has a frequency of about 3 billion GHz.


  • Heirnrich Hertz' nephew Gustav Ludwig Hertz was a 1925 Nobel Prize winner in Physics (together with James Franck) "for their discovery of the laws governing the impact of an electron upon an atom"
  • Gustav's son Carl Hellmuth Hertz invented medical ultrasonography and ink jet printing.
Reference Sources in BOLD Type This page revised October 10, 2006.

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