Saturday, 15 December 2018

Albert Michelson

 Albert Abraham Michelson was born on December 19,1852, to a German Jewish couple in Strelno (now Strzelno), Prussia (presently in Poland). in 1848, the Liberals in Germany advocated equality in taxes and  freedom of speech. But by the time of Albert's birth it was almost clear to them that the changing political scenario would make it difficult for them to live in Germany. And they started leaving the country to safer places. Some of them came to America and among them were the Michelson's who reached New York in 1854. Albert was just two years old then.

              After a while, they sailed to the western shore and reached California. By 1849, California had acquired the reputation of the promised land of gold. Albert's father, Samuel Michelson owned a small dry-fruit shop in Cleaver's county. Albert received primary education in the local school. For high school, he was sent to San Francisco. He was a bright student. Besides mathematics and science, he was well-versed in handling mechanical devices. For his adroitness, he was given charge of the scientific equipment in the school laboratory. He was  paid $3 per month for his work.

            In 1868, when Albert turned 16,his family moved to Virginia in Nevada State. Here silver mining was a major activity at that time. A year after they came here, his brother Charles was born, followed by the birth of his as the publicity director of the Democratic party during American President Franklin D Roosevelt's regime.

           Albert graduated from the Navel Academy in 1873. As per Academy rules. he served in the American Navy as 'assignee' for two years. On completion of duty, he was  called  back at the academy and appointed as teacher of physics and chemistry. During this time he developed an interest in the study of light especially the various techniques to measure the speed of light, which sustained throughout his life.

           Using Foucault's method of revolving mirrors. Michelson developed his unique technique to measure the speed of light. With some lens available in his laboratory besides spending $10, he developed this technique. He could accurately measure the speed of light in the vicinity of 500 feet.In 1878, his first research paper was published in the American Journal of Science. It was titled 'Measuring the Velocity of Light'. Using this new technique, the speed of light was found to be 1,86,508 miles/second.

            Thereafter, he concentrated on the colors seen in a soap bubble. He studied the refraction in the surface area of the bubble. He explained that if layer of soap film has half the wavelength of light, the two waves do not interfere and hence, do not get destroyed. Sir Isaac Newton too had studied the colors in bubble. But he did not believe in the arguments regarding the wavelength of light, so could not put forth any explanation for it.

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