Exactly 155 years ago today, German physicist Heinrich Hertz was born.
And nearly 30 years later he would go on to perform a collection of studies and experiments which would prove the existence of electromagnetic waves – a vital discovery to the modern day world of hearing aids and those suffering from hearing loss or impairment.
Internet mogul Google has dedicated their daily ‘Google Doodle’ to Hertz, by transforming their logo into a wave which mimics of each letter. The wave’s colors also are made up from Google’s colors – red, yellow, blue and green.
While the Scottish physicist James Maxwell was the first to investigate the possibility of sounds traveling in waves, Hertz was coined the pioneer of the discovery because he was the first to actually prove the theory. Using a two brass spheres, Hertz was able to conduct an experiment which made sound waves nearly visible to the naked eye.
In addition to two brass spheres placed closely together, Hertz’s experiment also consisted of a receiver – a curved wire in a semi-sphere shape with a gap at the top. Hertz placed the receiver across the room and then electrified his two-sphere transmitter. A spark traveled from the original transmitter all the way to the receiver, a process which confirmed that invisible waves did in fact travel and carry the spark from one device to the other.
Hertz’s study also verified the waves moved at the speed of light and would be reflected by some objects and could pass through others.
Because of his discovery, the International Electrotechnical Commission decided to name a unit of frequency in his honor – the hertz – which measures cycles per second.
Although a seemingly small accomplishment, Hertz’s findings have proven to be breakthrough research which led to the creation of radio and television broadcasts, in addition to a modern-day understanding of how we hear things and the development of hearing aids.
Despite passing away at the young age of 37, Hertz asserted his name in history by forever altering our understanding of electromagnetic ways – and inadvertently, our hearing.