Five things you didn't know about Heinrich Hertz

January 30, 2018


Heinrich Rudolf Hertz (1857-1894) was a German physicist and the original discoverer of electromagnetic waves. Not only was the frequency unit Hertz (Hz) named after him, but he was also a worthy choice for naming the Heinrich-Hertz-Institut after him.

1 – Heinrich Hertz’ diverse talents and interests included an aptitude for traditional craftsmanship. In his youth, he spent many Sundays woodworking at trade school. When his woodturning teacher later heard that his student had become a professor of physics, he regretted the loss: “What a pity! What a fine wood turner he would have made!”

2 –Heinrich Hertz only showed lack of talent in the field of Music. His singing voice was so poor that he was officially released from singing lessons at school.

3 – The Meteorologische Zeitung of 1884 published an essay by Heinrich Hertz that dealt with the measurement of atmospheric humidity. In it, he had developed a graph from which the humidity could be read directly, depending on certain parameters, which subsequently made the work of meteorologists much easier.

4 – In 1886, Heinrich Hertz married Elisabeth Doll, the daughter of one of his colleagues, with whom he had two daughters of his own: Johanna and Mathilde. His wife supported him not only in writing scientific articles, but also in his experimental work.

5 – Heinrich Hertz held his last lecture as a professor at Bonn University in 1893. He suspected that he would not live much longer. “If anything should happen to me" - he said – “you should not grieve, but be glad that I will then be one of the chosen ones who live only for a short time and yet live enough. I did not wish for this fate, but I have to be happy with what I am given. If I had a choice to make, I might have chosen this myself.” On January 1st in 1894, Heinrich Hertz died from sepsis. He was only 36 years old at the time.