The Library of Original Sources - Vol. 9

The Library of Original Sources - Vol. 9

Read FREE!

The Library of Original Sources - Vol. 9

The Library of Original Sources - Vol. 9

Read FREE!

Excerpt

OERSTED

HANS CHRISTIAN OERSTED was born in the Danish island of Langeland, August 14, 1777. His father was an apothecary. He learned German from a neighbor and taught himself and his brother arithmetic from an old school book. Both brothers entered the University of Copenhagen in 1794, and Hans took his doctor’s degree in 1799. After traveling for three years he became an exceedingly popular lecturer at his university in 1806.

He made his great discovery of the identity of electricity and magnetism in 1820. This led to the discoveries by Henry and Faraday of a method of changing the one into the other, and eventually made practicable the electric dynamo and motor and all that they imply.

He was not only a physicist, but a philosopher and poet. Behind Nature he saw Mind, and his “Soul in Nature” is an argument that the laws of nature—of things in themselves—are mental laws. If one will stop to consider the vast import of this proposition he will see that if it can be reasonably proved, it will compel belief in a God, and put religion on a sure ground. Oersted, of course, did not prove this, but he did much to explain how it might be true. He reinforced Plato’s doctrine of Ideas with all the scientific knowledge of the time to illustrate how the laws of nature are the thoughts of nature. “The material and the spiritual are inseparably united in the living Idea of the Almighty Power by whom all things are created.” Oersted died March 9, 1851.

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