Michelson, Albert Abraham, 1852-1931

Alternative names
Dates:
Birth 1852-12-19
Death 1931-05-09
Americans
English

Biographical notes:

Physicist (light). Graduate of U.S. Naval Academy, Class of 1873, and measured the velocity of light in 1878-1879 while on duty at the Academy as an instructor in physics and chemistry. On the physics faculty of Case Western Reserve (1883-1889); and University of Chicago: department chair (1892-1925), distinguished service professor from 1925; winner of Nobel Prize (1907).

From the description of Papers, 1803-1989 ; (bulk: 1861-1965). (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 82694665

Physicist (light). On the physics faculty of Case Western Reserve, 1883-1889; and University of Chicago: department chair, 1892-1925, distinguished service professor from 1925; winner of Nobel Prize, 1907.

From the description of Velocity of light: notebook, [ca. 1878]. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 83157991

From the description of Papers, 1894-1930. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 82303039

Physicist (light). On the physics faculty of Case Western Reserve (1883-1889); and University of Chicago: department chair (1892-1925), distinguished service professor from 1925; winner of Nobel Prize (1907).

From the description of Papers, 1829-1970. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 122564587

American physicist Albert Abraham Michelson, best known for his work on the measurement of the speed of light and especially for the Michelson-Morley experiment, received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1907.

From the guide to the Albert Abraham Michelson facsimile, 1879, (American Philosophical Society)

Physicist (light). Graduate of the Naval Academy, Class of 1873, and measured the velocity of light in 1878-1879 while on duty at the Academy as an instructor in physics and chemistry. On the physics faculty of Case Western Reserve (1883-1889); and University of Chicago: department chair (1892-1925), distinguished service professor from 1925; winner of Nobel Prize (1907).

From the description of Addition to papers. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 82797991

Physicist, astronomer, and geologist. Born in Germany; emigrated to United States where he graduated from and later taught at the United States Naval Academy. Recognized for his light transmission studies; inventions of Interferometer and Echelon Spectroscope; and studies of the rigidity and configuration of the earth. Most celebrated for his measurement of the speed of light.

From the description of Experimental Determination of the velocity of Light : treatise, [ca. 1882]. (Brown University). WorldCat record id: 122318689

Albert Abraham Michelson was born on December 19, 1852 in Strelno, Poland (then a part of Prussia) to Samuel and Rosalie Przlubska Michelson. Two years later the Michelson family left Strelno for Murphys, California where his father opened a dry goods store. Michelson attended Lincoln Grammar School in San Francisco, and graduated from Boys’ High School in 1869. The family then moved to Virginia City, Nevada.

That same year Michelson won an appointment to the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. He was nominated by President Ulysses S. Grant after a recommendation from Senator William M. Stewart and Congressman Thomas Fitch of Nevada. Michelson graduated in 1873, spent two years at sea in the West Indies, and returned to the Academy in 1875 as an instructor in physics and chemistry.

In 1879 Michelson was posted to the Nautical Almanac Office in Washington, D.C. to work with Simon Newcomb, but the next year he received a leave of absence to continue his studies in Europe. He studied at the Universities of Berlin and Heidelberg, the College de France, and the École Polytechnique in Paris. Michelson resigned from the Navy and took an appointment as Professor of Physics in the Case School of Applied Science, Cleveland, Ohio in 1883. In 1890 he left to take a position at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts. Two years later he became a Professor of Physics and the first head of the Department of Physics at the University of Chicago.

Michelson rejoined the Navy in 1918 to serve in World War I, but returned to Chicago and was eventually appointed to the first of the Distinguished Professorships in 1925. Four years later he resigned from the University to work at the Mount Wilson Observatory in Pasadena, California.

Michelson’s achievements and honors during his long career are vast, but perhaps most impressive was his 1907 Nobel Prize in Physics-the first Nobel Prize won by an American scientist. He excelled in the study of optics, and gave a Nobel Prize acceptance speech “Recent Advances in Spectroscopy.” Other noteworthy achievements include the famous “Michelson-Morley experiment” (1887), which was acknowledged by Albert Einstein as an important foundation stone in the Theory of Relativity, and his work at Mount Wilson that produced the most accurate determination of the velocity of light ever obtained by strictly optical methods.

Michelson’s many awards also include the Matteucci Medal (Societá Italiana, 1904), Copley Medal (Royal Society, 1907), Elliot Cresson Medal (Franklin Institute, 1912), Draper Medal (National Academy of Sciences, 1916), Franklin Medal (Franklin Institute, 1923), the Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society (1923), and the Duddell Medal (Physical Society, 1929).

In addition to numerous papers, Michelson’s works include Velocity of Light (1902), Light Waves and Their Uses (1899-1903), and Studies in Optics (1927). His was president of the American Physical Society (1900), the American Association for the Advancement of Science (1910-1911), and the National Academy of Sciences (1923-1927). He was a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society, the Royal Society of London, and the Optical Society. He was also an Associate of l’Académie Française.

Michelson married Margaret McLean Hemingway in 1877. The couple had two sons and a daughter-Albert Hemingway, Truman, and Elsa. They divorced, and Michelson married Edna Stanton of Lake Forest, Illinois in 1899. They had three daughters-Madeleine, Dorothy, and Beatrice. Albert Abraham Michelson died on May 9, 1931 in Pasadena, California.

On May 8, 1948, the United States Navy dedicated a new laboratory to Michelson in California’s Mohave Desert. The Michelson Museum, located in the Michelson Laboratory, contains Michelson’s early research apparatus, original manuscripts and research notes, reprints of published research papers, photographs, the Michelson medals, and the parchment announcing Michelson as the recipient of the 1907 Nobel Prize in Physics.

From the guide to the Michelson, Albert A. Papers, 1891-1969, (Special Collections Research Center University of Chicago Library 1100 East 57th Street Chicago, Illinois 60637 U.S.A.)

Loading...

Loading Relationships

Information

Permalink:
http://n2t.net/ark:/99166/w6833vkf
Ark ID:
w6833vkf
SNAC ID:
70612023

Subjects:

  • Interferometers--Technological innovations
  • Animals--Color--Research
  • Gravity--Measurement
  • Special relativity (Physics)--History
  • Waves (Physics)--Diffraction--Research
  • Light--Speed--Research
  • Birds--Color--Research
  • Science
  • Physicists--Biography
  • Earth tides--Research
  • Spectrum analysis
  • Light--Speed
  • Velocity of light
  • Insects--Color--Research
  • Viscoelasticity
  • Gravity--Measurement--Instruments
  • Light
  • Diffraction gratings
  • Vacuum technology--Experiments
  • Measuring instruments (Physical instruments)--Technological innovations
  • Waves--Diffraction--Research
  • Light--Speed--Measurement
  • Interferometers--Experiments
  • Optical instruments--Technological innovations
  • Light--Speed--Measurement--Standards
  • Ether
  • Stars
  • Physics--Experiments
  • Astronomical observatories
  • Physics--Research
  • Stars--Measurement

Occupations:

  • Physicists

Places:

  • Illinois--Chicago (as recorded)