Charles Wheatstone

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Wheatstone, Charles


Born Feb. 6, 1802, in Gloucester, England; died Oct. 19, 1875, in Paris. English physicist and inventor. Fellow of the Royal Society of London (1836).

While engaged in the making of musical instruments, Wheat-stone carried out several ingenious acoustic experiments. In 1833 he explained the origins of the Chladni figures. In 1834 he became a professor at King’s College (London). Wheatstone proposed a method for measuring the duration of a spark produced by an electrical discharge (1834) and proved that the spark discharge spectra of metals uniquely characterize these metals (1835). In 1837, together with W. F. Cooke, he obtained a patent for the invention of an electromagnetic telegraph, and in 1858 he built the first usable automatic telegraph. In 1867 he proposed, independently of W. von Siemens, the idea of a self-excited shunt dynamo. Wheatstone constructed a mirror stereoscope, a photometer, a cryptograph, various automatically recording meteorological instruments, and other devices. He also proposed the bridge method of measuring resistance.


The Scientific Papers. London, 1879.