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Anders Jonas Ångström

Anders Jonas ÅngströmBorn: 13-Aug-1814
Birthplace: Lögdö, Sweden
Died: 21-Jun-1874
Location of death: Uppsala, Sweden
Cause of death: unspecified

Gender: Male
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Physicist, Astronomer

Nationality: Sweden
Executive summary: Founder of spectroscopy

Swedish physicist, born on the 13th of August 1814 at Lögdö, Medelpad, Sweden. He was educated at the University of Uppsala, where in 1839 he became privat docent in physics. In 1842 he went to Stockholm Observatory in order to gain experience in practical astronomical work, and in the following year he became observer at Uppsala Observatory. Becoming interested in terrestrial magnetism he made many observations of magnetic intensity and declination in various parts of Sweden, and was charged by the Stockholm Academy of Sciences with the task, not completed until shortly before his death, of working out the magnetic data obtained by the Swedish frigate "Eugénie" on her voyage around the world in 1851-53. In 1858 he succeeded Adolph Ferdinand Svanberg (1806-1857) in the chair of physics at Uppsala, and there he died on the 21st of June 1874.

His most important work was concerned with the conduction of heat and with spectroscopy. In his optical researches, Optiska Undersökningar, presented to the Stockholm Academy in 1853, he not only pointed out that the electric spark yields two superposed spectra, one from the metal of the electrode and the other from the gas in which it passes, but deduced from Leonhard Euler's theory of resonance that an incandescent gas emits luminous rays of the same refrangibility as those which it can absorb. This statement, as Sir E. Sabine remarked when awarding him the Rumford medal of the Royal Society in 1872, contains a fundamental principle of spectrum analysis, and though for a number of years it was overlooked it entitles him to rank as one of the founders of spectroscopy.

From 1861 onwards he paid special attention to the solar spectrum. He announced the existence of hydrogen, among other elements, in the sun's atmosphere in 1862, and in 1868 published his great map of the normal solar spectrum which long remained authoritative in questions of wavelength, although his measurements were inexact to the extent of one part in 7000 or 8000 owing to the meter which he used as his standard having been slightly too short. He was the first, in 1867, to examine the spectrum of the aurora borealis, and detected and measured the characteristic bright line in its yellow green region; but he was mistaken in supposing that this same line, which is often called by his name, is also to be seen in the zodiacal light.

Son: Knut Johan Ångström (physicist)

    University: PhD Physics, University of Uppsala (1839)
    Professor: University of Uppsala

    Royal Society 1870
    Rumford Medal 1872
    Units of Measure one hundred-millionth centimeter
    Swedish Ancestry


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