(February 22, 1857 – January 1, 1894)
Heinrich Hertz initially worked on meteorology before turning his attention to particle physics. It was James Clerk Maxwell who first theorized the existence of various electromagnetic radiations in 1865. But nobody could prove it conclusively, until Hertz did so some 20 years later. With encouragement from Professor Hermann von Helmholtz who supervised his doctoral thesis, Hertz analyzed Maxwell’s equations in 1879 but gave-up proving his theory due to lack of appropriate equipments at that time. Seven years later, (while working as a professor at Karlsruhe) he built the necessary apparatus with which he positively identified electromagnetic radiations: traveling at the velocity of light. He thus became their discoverer. His discovery not only settled two decades of speculations, it was praised as a landmark in both electrodynamics and particle physics. Not resting on his laurels, Heinrich Hertz became one of the early researchers in Contact Mechanics. His treatise in 1882 (titled: Ueber die Beruehrung fester elastischer Koerper) went a long way in clarifying the subject. Afterwards he furthered researches on Continuum Mechanics which Augustin-Louis Cauchy had earlier pioneered. He also investigated other areas of physics such as the Cathode Rays, the Photoelectric Effect (long before Albert Einstein), as well as inventing what is now termed the Hertz’s Principle of Least Curvature. Nonetheless, the top badge of honor on his scientific achievements remains the discovery of electromagnetic radiations. Befittingly, the word “Hertz” was designated the S.I. unit of wave frequency in 1930. Among several other things, a lunar impact crater was named after him in 1961.