Herman Ludwig Ferdinand Helmholtz
The extrordinary scientist Herman Helmholtz made important contributions
in all major fields of science. Not only did he unify the divers
fields of medicine, physiology, anatomy, and physics, but Helmholtz
also related this universal view to the fine arts. In fact , his
first academic position was teacher of anatomy at the Academy
for fine Arts in berlin.
Born in Potsdam in August 31 1821, his youth was marred with illness. At the age of nine he entered the Gymnasium in Potsdam where his father was a teacher. In spite of difficulty in distiguishing right from left., he progressed rapidly.
With a keen interest in natural science and a desire to study physics, helmholtz was awaeded a scholorsfip to the Frederich-wilhelm Institute in Berlin. The scholorship was awarrded under the agreement that when he completed his studies, he would serve several years as a military physiscian. It was here that he studied with a great teacher and scientist, Johannes Muller. This relationship had a tremendous influence on the young Helmholtz and with Muller as an example and adviser, shaped his future. In 1842 helmholtz received his doctorate for the discovery in the field of anatomy.
With his work completed at the institute, he began to fulfill his obligation as a military surgeon. During this post, he sets his mind on one of the nagging problems of the day, the priciple of the conservation of energy. Describing his work at a lecture for the Physical society of berlin in 1847, he establishes the conservation law in its full generality. With this accomplishment he gains the attention of the scientific commity and with the publication of this paper, helmholtz is able to reliquish his position as a military physician.
As mention earlier, 1848 brings us to the beginning of his academic carrier. Helmholtz remains at the academy for just one year before he is transferred to konigsberg. Here he is an associate professor of physiology. He works here between 1849 and 1855 and during this period there are two major accomplisments. The first, relates to his work with the speed of a nerve impulse. Out of this work comes the law of the rise of an electric current in an inductive circuit. This law was named after him. The second accomplishment is born from the work he was doing in optics, the invention of the opthalmascope.
This invention brought more attention from the scientific community and with this he began to travel. One of his first trips was to England in 1853. As one of three foreign speakers, he attended the British Association for the Advancement of Science in Hull. Here he represented the only physiologist and presented a paper dealing with color mixing. Perhaps more important to our inquire was his introduction to and meeting with, Micheal Faraday. (use a quote from H's letteres that describe this meeting, they're in the biography.) He made attempts during this visit to meet with Sir Charles wheatstone, but these were to no avail.
Another important relationship was Kimdled during this period. Toward the end of his appointment Konigsberg , Helmholtz met William Thomas (Lord kelvin), one of the foremost mathmatiical physicists of Europe. The two were to remain friends and collegues for the remainder of Helmholt's life.
His work in acoustics began while at Konigsberg. In 1852, while reading the work of Challlis, he found some mathematical errors. Correcting these errors aroused his interest in the field of acoustics, a branch of hydrdynamics, for which he was to later create the mathematical foundations. With his advanced work in optics and a new developing interest in acoustics, Helmholtz , once again moves on. In 18555 he accepts a position as full professor of anatomy and physiology in Bonn.
It is in Bonn between 1855 and 1858 that he lays the foundation for his book "On the sensation of Tone". There are two experimental facts that contribute to this foundation. Although difference tones arissing from two simple had already been discovered. Helmholtz discovered the existance of summation tonnes and the dependence of their presence on the simple tone. His theory, developed im 1856 shows how combination tones originate from the non-linear responce of the eardrum or some other detector. (p3."On the Sensation of Tone" This work was presented in a lecture in Bonn in 1857 titled, "The Physiological causes of Harmony in Music" It may be that Philip Reiss attended this lecture. It is also this lecture that was to form the body of his book "On the Sensation of Tone".
In 1854 Herman Hemholtz 33 years old delivers his lecture on Tone
and the human Ear in Bonn Germany. Philipp Reis age 17 also in
Germany begins his correspondence with Michael Faraday now 62
years old the head of the royal Institute of London. Charles Bourseul
writes a paper articulating the concept of the telephone. Ampere
and Del Rive are in France. Sir Charles Wheat Stone now 52 years
old, William Cook has now expanded their telegraph network throughout
England via the railway. Alexander Gahram Bell age 7 living with
his family at 13 south Charbtte St., Edinburgh spending his time
playing panio and lying among the heather on Scottish hills. Yeats
and Son Instrument makers and opticians have established themselves
at 2 Grafton St. in Dublin, Ireland. Across the pond in the US,
Heinrich Gobel an emigrated German watchmaker invents the electric
light bulb in New York City. Samuel Morse is hounding congress
for a contract for his version of the telegraph in Washington
DC. Joseph Henry is now a director at the Smithsonian in Washington
Seeking work during this industrial revolution people had moved from the farms to populate the cities of the US and Europe. They labored long hours for small wages in the gas lit sweatshops and factories. Living conditions consisted of over crowed tenements where as many as 20 people lay in an open room. This provided the ideal conditions for tuberculosis to run ramped and claim hundreds of thousands of victims. Poor sanitary conditions lead to constant outbreaks of typhoid fever and cholera claiming even more lives. Although anatomy had been intensely studied and well documented Medicine was still breaking from the dark ages. Great strides were being made in every area from bed side philosophy in the hospitals of France to the way the English began to educate its interns. Microscopic research in Germany would start to reveal an understanding of the human cell and its role in combating disease. These were all very encouraging steps but it would be another 40 years before medicine would begin to contain and manage major public health issues.
Since steamboats delivered the bulk of life sustaining staples these urban populations grew on riverbanks and canals. Technology had not done much to improve the lives of people in 1854.
The steam engine raced across the railroads and telegraph wires cover over 15,000 land miles in the US and over 20, 000 miles in Europe with two cross continental cable connections between Ireland and Canada and the Us and Europe. The global village was already growing rapidly in the western world.
The individual scientist still had an ability to keep his own automany without having to worry about an over barring corporate structure. This allowed the individual to create with a clear conscious and exchange ideas freely with a network of peers through publishing in print and lecture. Experiments in Electricity and magnetism were the subject of many articles in the scientific pericols in both the US and Europe. So many experiments were conducted with sound/ tone / music that the patent office had two categories for telecommunications invention's
1)device which articulated sound, tone or music 2) device which articulated speech. It was the lecture on "Tone" given in Bonn, Germany by - Herman Hemholtz in 1854 and the public demonstration given by Dr Charles Page in 1837, which seemed to have the most dramatic impact on Music and scientific community.