1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Weber, Wilhelm Eduard

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
[ 458 ]

WEBER, WILHELM EDUARD (1804-1891), German physicist, was born at Wittenberg on the 24th of October 1804, and was a younger brother of Ernst Heinrich Weber, the author of Weber's Law (see below). He studied at the university of Halle, where he took his doctor's degree in 1826 and became extraordinary professor of physics in 1828. Three years later he removed to Göttingen as professor of physics, and remained there till 1837, when he was one of the seven professors who were expelled from their chairs for protesting against the action of the king of Hanover (duke of Cumberland) in suspending the constitution. A period of retirement followed this episode, but in 1843 he accepted the chair of physics at Leipzig, and six years later returned to Göttingen, where he died on the 23rd of June 1891. Weber's name is especially known for his work on electrical measurement. Until his time there was no established system either of stating or measuring electrical quantities; but he showed, as his colleague K. F. Gauss did for magnetic quantities, that it is both theoretically and practically possible to define them, not merely by reference to other arbitrary quantities of the same kind, but absolutely in terms in which the units of length, time, and mass are alone involved. He also carried on extensive researches in the theory of magnetism; and it is interesting that in connexion with his observations in terrestrial magnetism he not only employed an early form of mirror galvanometer, but also, about 1833, devised a system of electromagnetic telegraphy, by which a distance of some 9000 ft. was worked over. In conjunction with his elder brother he published in 1825 a well-known treatise on waves, Die Wellenlehre auf Experimente gegründet; and in 1833 he collaborated with his younger brother, the physiologist Eduard Friedrich Weber (1806-1871), in an investigation into the mechanism of walking.