The Encyclopedia Americana (1920)/Wheatstone, Charles

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WHEATSTONE, hwēt'stȯn, Sir Charles, English physicist: b. Gloucester, February 1802; d. Paris, 19 Oct. 1875. He commenced business for himself in London as a maker of musical instruments and in 1823 attracted the attention of scientists by the publication in ‘Thomson's Annals of Philosophy’ of a paper entitled “New Experiments on Sound.” In 1834 he was appointed professor of experimental philosophy in King's College, London, and in 1836 exhibited at King's College experiments showing the velocity of electricity. For this purpose he used a circuit of four miles of copper wire. These experiments suggested to him the idea of applying his apparatus to telegraphing. In 1837 with W. F. Cooke, he took out the first patent for magnetic telegraph, but no practical application of this was made till after the Morse telegraph had been operated. Another subject that engaged much of his attention was vision, on which he published various papers, among them a memoir contributed to the ‘Philosophical Transactions’ in 1848, “0n some Remarkable and Hitherto Unobserved Phenomena of Binocular Vision.” He was knighted in 1868; was a Fellow of the Royal Society from the year 1836, and was also a corresponding member of the French Institute and honorary member of the principal academies of science in Europe. He wrote no considerable work, but was the author of numerous papers chiefly contributed to the Philosophical Magazine and the Journal of the Royal Institution.