With an animated graphics showing electromagnetic wave on its home page, search engine Google today marked the 155th birth anniversary of Heinrich Rudolf Hertz, the German physicist who had discovered the existence of radio waves in the late 1880s.

Hertz, who was born in Hamburg on February 22, 1857, was the first to prove the existence of electromagnetic waves by engineering instruments to transmit and receive radio pulses.

His pioneering work later led to the development of wireless telegraph and radio. The unit of frequency of a radio wave is thus named the hertz, in honour of Heinrich Hertz.

Since childhood, Hertz had a special fascination for physics and it was his interest that drove him to study the subject in detail at the University of Munich.

His investigation into electromagnetic phenomena got him a PhD on electromagnetic induction in rotating spheres at the age of 22. In 1885, he became a physics professor at Karlsruhe Technische Hochschule.

While working on open electrical circuits using a condenser discharging through an open loop, he noticed sparks in another nearby loop, which suggested that these signals possessed all of the properties of electromagnetic waves.

In 1888, Hertz demonstrated that the electromagnetic emissions associated with these sparks behaved like waves. The finding, which clarified and expanded British physicist James Clerk Maxwell’s electromagnetic theory of light, was hailed as confirmation that electromagnetic waves could be transmitted and received.

Hertz died in 1894 at the age of 36 after contracting a rare infection.

Google doodles, or the graphical representation of Google logo, are designed to mark holidays, anniversaries and lives of famous artists and scientists. The search giant has over 1,300 doodles since 1998, when it created its first doodle to mark the celebrations of the Burning Man Festival.

(This article was published on February 22, 2012)
XThese are links to The Hindu Business Line suggested by Outbrain, which may or may not be relevant to the other content on this page. You can read Outbrain's privacy and cookie policy here.