Ohm's Law revisited

April 7, 2016 | 10:44
Ohm's Law by Ohm (photo by Lukas Mezger)
Ohm's Law by Ohm (photo by Lukas Mezger)
Who doesn’t know Ohm’s Law? I am not sure, but I think it is taught to (and immediately forgotten by) most children of around 14, 15 years old. Georg Simon Ohm, born in Germany in 1789, published his now famous findings in 1827. Some forty years later the unit of electrical resistance became the ohm and it stuck so well that we still use it today. But did you know that James Clerk Maxwell – indeed, the same who proposed that electricity, light and magnetism might be related and came up with a set of partial differential equations to support his suggestion – back in 1879 published unknown work from Henry Cavendish, the man who weighed the earth, revealing that Cavendish had discovered Ohm’s Law more than 50 years before Ohm? Before Ohm was even born? Since Cavendish didn’t publish his law, nobody knew about it and so the Royal Society committee that proposed the ohm as the unit for electrical resistance cannot be blamed for this grave injustice. Or can it? Cavendish died in 1810,...

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