The New International Encyclopædia/Siemens, Ernst Werner von
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Siemens, Ernst Werner von
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SIEMENS, zē'mĕns, Ernst Werner von (1816-92). A German electrical engineer. He was born at Lenthe, near Hanover, and was educated in the Gymnasium of Lübeck and in the school of artillery and engineering at Berlin, becoming an artillery officer in 1838. He studied chemistry and electro-magnetism, and invented a process for electro-plating in 1841. In 1848 he became commandant of the artillery arsenal in Berlin. He was the first to explode a submarine mine by electricity (1848). Devoting himself to electrical engineering, he was engaged after 1849 in the establishment of telegraph lines, particularly through Russia, Brazil, Spain, and Northern Germany. In 1856 he devised the improved shuttle armature which increased the efficiency of the magneto-machine, and in 1876 demonstrated that its electro-magnets could be used without separate exciters, the current being passed through the field coils. He proposed as the unit of resistance a column of mercury one meter long and one square millimeter in cross-section at 0º Centigrade. This was known as the Siemens unit. Siemens was also active in promoting electric traction in Germany, and the first electric railway was erected at the Berlin Industrial Exhibition of 1879 by Siemens & Halske. His researches in electricity resulted in discoveries and improvements of great value, one of which was the determining of the locations of injuries in submerged cables, and also of charging them in order to reduce the disturbing influence of induced currents. In 1884, by the gift of about $125,000, he made possible the foundation of the Imperial Physico-Technical Institute (Reichsanstalt), which has been an important factor in German scientific research and manufacturing. (See Laboratory.) He wrote numerous scientific works and also a volume of Personal Reminiscences which has been translated into English.