Hans Christian Orested

By: Allyson Csukker


When he was born: August 14, 1777

Where he lived and worked: Rudkobing on the island of Langeland, Denmark

His Profession: Physics

Interesting facts: He and his brother, Anders, were home schooled until 1793 when they entered the University of Copenhagen. In 1822 he was elected a foreign member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.


Idea/discovery: Electromagnetism

Explain: while conducting experiments and performing classroom demonstrations for the benefit of his university students

When: In the spring of 1820

How: Ørsted placed an electrically charged wire near a compass, causing the needle on the compass to swerve, deflected at a right angle. The observation of this phenomenon clearly established a relationship between magnetism and electricity, and through a series of subsequent experiments Ørsted became the first to identify the force of electromagnetism.

Inventions: Aluminum

Explain: Many chemists who came before Ørsted thought it existed but failed in their attempts to actually uncover it. He was the first to successfully distinguish it from other chemical compounds and positively identify and extract it as a unique element.

When: Five years after discovering electromagnetism Ørsted made a monumental find in the field of chemistry, when he became the first person to capture the element aluminum.

Hans Christian Orested


What did he change about the understanding of electricity?

How did society react?