Milestone-Proposal talk:Ampere discovers Electrodynamics, 1820

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Citation accepted by proposer (Oct 2022) -- Administrator1 (talk) 01:04, 2 October 2022 (UTC)[edit | reply | new]

The Birth of Electrodynamics 1820-1827

Stimulated by experimental reports that an electric current could deflect a compass needle, André-Marie Ampère discovered the fundamental law of electrodynamics, the science of interactions between electric currents. He then developed the theory that electric currents are responsible for magnetism. These achievements formed the basis for electrical technologies including electric motors and generators. In 1881, the International Electrical Congress named the unit of electric current the ‘ampere’. (A)

Citation accepted by proposer -- Administrator1 (talk) 18:05, 28 July 2022 (UTC)[edit | reply | new]

The discovery of electrodynamics by Ampère, 1820

In 1820, André-Marie Ampère conceived and developed electrodynamics, the science of interactions between electric currents. He was able to make clear the distinction between voltage and current, and he brought magnetic and electrical phenomena together. Electrodynamics is the basis for electrical technologies including electromagnets, electric motors and generators. This was recognised in 1881 with the international decision to use ‘ampere’ (A) as the name of the unit of electric current.

Re: Suggested citations from History Committee -- Administrator1 (talk) 19:13, 8 August 2022 (UTC)[edit | reply | new]

In 1820, André-Marie Ampère conceived and developed electrodynamics: the science of interactions between electric currents. He was able to make clear the distinction between voltage and current, and he brought magnetic and electrical phenomena together. In 1881, the First International Electrical Congress recognized electrodynamics as the basis for electromagnets, electric motors, and generators with its definition of the ‘ampere’ (A) as the unit of electric current

Modified citation proposed by advocate -- Administrator1 (talk) 18:05, 28 July 2022 (UTC)[edit | reply | new]

The discovery of electrodynamics by Ampère, 1820

In 1820, André-Marie Ampère conceived and developed electrodynamics, the science of interactions between electric currents. He was able to make clear the distinction between voltage and current, and he brought magnetic and electrical phenomena together. Electrodynamics is the basis for electrical technologies including electromagnets, electric motors and generators. This was recognised in 1881 with the international decision to use ‘ampere’ (A) as the name of the unit of electric current.

Re: Modified citation proposed by advocate -- Bouchon (talk) 12:17, 4 August 2022 (UTC)[edit | reply | new]

We approve this modified citation. Thank you. Bernadette Bouchon-Meunier

Milestone draft proposal -- Savini (talk) 17:01, 29 November 2021 (UTC)[edit | reply | new]

29 November 2021

Dear Milestone proposer

I have been appointed by the History Committee as the advocate of your draft proposal. As such, it is my responsibility to help you submit an accurate proposal and to look for the assessments by two reviewers. Let us be in touch Best regards

Antonio Savini IEEE History Committee, past member

comment on milestone proposal -- Tonydavies (talk) 11:57, 16 January 2022 (UTC)[edit | reply | new]

The proposal does not mention Oersted's discoveries and experiment on the connections between electric current and magnetism. It is often claimed that Ampere's development of electrodynamics was partly a consequence of learning of Oersted's work. The proposal should include some comments about this. Tony Davies 2022 January 16th

-- Savini (talk) 07:51, 3 February 2022 (UTC)[edit | reply | new]

Dear proposer

As the appointed advocate, recently I had the possibility of looking through your proposal entitled " Ampère discovers electrodynamics, 1820". Here I am reporting my first remarks. What immediately appears also from the title is the emphasis on the discoverer instead of on the discovery. Since the purpose of the Milestones program is to acknowledge inventions rather than celebrating inventors, the whole proposal should be restructured starting from the title, which easily and correctly should read " Ampère's discovery of electrodynamics, 1820". From the historical viewpoint, moreover, what is important is to underline the step forward made by A. Ampère with respect to the level of scientific knowledge of the time. Definitely he was stimulated by the experiments mada by Oersted just a few months before. As to the impact of the discovery, it was tremendous both theoretically for the progress of electric science and practically since it originated a number of applications. I have noticed that many questions in the proposal form are unanswered. I recommend you to complete the form carefully and also to add the supporting material. After this preliminary revision you may submit the proposal officially so that it can be reviewed carefully in detail. I do look forward to receiving the proposal after submission.

Collection of comment associated with Ampere's discoveries in Electromagnetism -- Tonydavies (talk) 18:47, 8 February 2022 (UTC)[edit | reply | new]

__________________________________. 21 April 1820: Hans Christian Oersted (1777-1851) discovered that the needle of a compass turned when a wire carrying current was near, and the turn was at right angles to the wire. He showed there was a link between electricity and magnetism. Before this, Oersted had travelled to Germany and France, 1801-1803. In Germany, he met Johann Wilhelm Ritter in Jena. Ritter had already concluded that electricity and magnetism were related, so Oersted’s 1920 discovery may not have really been the unexpected ‘surprise’ which Oersted claimed. He announced his discoveries on 21 July 1820 in a paper written in Latin. However, the experiment was shown well before that (21 April 1820) to a large class of his students, at which he claimed the unexpected surprise at observing this during presentation to the class. It seems sure that he actually knew this would happen before 21 July 1820 and the ‘surprise’ was announced for impact and other reasons. By September 1820, Francois Arago was showing this in France. and it is claimed that Ampère attended this lecture by Arago. The 1820 COPLEY medal of the British Royal Society was awarded to Oersted. Oersted was a follower of Kant’s philosophy, and did not believe in atoms – he believed that matter could be divided endlessly to infinitely smaller pieces. It also has to be remembered that at this time, many scientists believed in what is now called Astrology (which was mixed into the true science of Astronomy), and they believed that the timing of important scientific discoveries should be related to the timing of cosmological events outside the control of humans. A specific and relevant example is the following: Italic text In a letter to Oersted of 22 May 1803, Ritter prophesied a remarkable discovery in 1819 or 1820. He meant that the years of maximum inclination of the ecliptic (1745,1764,1782,1801) coincided with outstanding discoveries in the field of electricity …….1745 Invention of the Leiden jar by Kleist; 1764 Invention of the electrophorous by Wilcke ; 1782 Invention of the condenser by Volta 1801 Invention of the Voltaic pile. … Ritter went on: 'You will not have to reckon with a new epoch or its start any earlier than the year 1819 or 1820. This we might well witness….. behold Oersted discovered in 1820 the effect of the electric current upon the magnet! It might be concluded on this basis that Oersted might have deliberately ‘delayed’ his discovery to 1820, to comply with this advice of Johann Wilhelm Ritter.


There are claims that these discoveries were preceded by the Italian Gian Domenico Romagnosi, who said he had seen the deflection of a magnetic needle when it was near to a battery. However it is now considered likely that because he had no complete closed circuit to carry current; this deflection may have been caused by electrostatic charge. Ándre-Marie Ampère (1775-1836) made the discovery that a wire carrying electric current can attract or repel another wire carrying current and this led him to the Law of Electromagnetism. Ampère had been encouraged to learn anything and everything by his father, but was left to make his own way through available books, etc. in his father’s library. It is said that he started his studies of mathematics at the age of 13. Clearly he became extremely knowledgeable. In 1804, Ampère had moved from Lyon to Paris, and he taught at the École Polytechnique and became professor of mathematics despite a lack of the usual formal qualifications. He was considered an outstanding teacher. It is sure that by September 1820 he had heard of Oersted’s work with the implication that this led him to investigate why electric current produced magnetism. At this time he discovered that magnetism without magnets was possible, and that led to the idea and use of a solenoid to get more magnetism from a given amount of electric current. In a very thorough description published in 1823 (Theorie des phenomenes electro-dynamique’, Memoires de l’Institut, Volume IV, Ampère describes in extreme and mathematical detail his explanations and conclusions. This seems to have been re-published perhaps with corrections in Volume V1, dated 1827. This 217 page report can be found on line as a pdf file at: http://www.ffn.ub.es/luisnavarro/nuevo_maletin/Ampere_1823_Electrodynamique.pdf The various reports about all these events need to be looked at carefully, because of discrepancies of the reported dates of various claimed events. Illustrations are from English translation of Ganot’s Cours Elementaire de physique, by R.Atkinson, London, 1878 (3rd Edition) to follow ....

-- Savini (talk) 07:14, 31 March 2022 (UTC)[edit | reply | new]

Dear proposer This is to remind you that we are looking forward to receiving your Milestone proposal completed and submitted. Best regards A. Savini

A. Savini -- Savini (talk) 09:41, 25 April 2022 (UTC)[edit | reply | new]

25 April 2022 Dear proposer, thank you for submitting your application incorporating my preliminary remarks. I look forward to receiving the comments made by two experts. Best regards Antonio Savini, advocate

Message received by the advocate from S. Selleri, professor of Electromagnetic Fields, University of Florence, Italy -- Savini (talk) 13:08, 25 April 2022 (UTC)[edit | reply | new]

Thank you for inviting me to revise the Milestone proposal " Discovery of Electrodynamics", I'm honoured.

The relevance of Ampère's work is unquestionable, but the proposal might benefit from a little editing. Being this the first time I act in this position I'm unsure if I can edit the proposal directly or if it is appropriate to simply write down here my comments.

I'll just write them here, please let me know if any further action is required.

My main concern is on plaque location. Ampère was at the Ecole Polytechnique from 1804 to 1828, and joined the College de France in 1824, so in his "annus mirabilis", 1820, he was not at the College de France.

https://www.polytechnique.edu/patrimoine/pages.php?notice=000148148&collections=musees

James R. Hofmann, "André-Marie Ampère Enlightenment and Electrodynamics," Cambridge University Press, 2006, pag. 141-142

In the latter reference it is indeed stated that Ampère sought such a change in position from the Ecole Polytechnique to the College de France for quite some time.

While I do not object to the Milestone placed at the College, I would strongly advise for a duplicate at the Ecole Polytechnique, as it has sometimes been done in other occasions. IEEE has a strong policy on having Milestones placed on the relevant location for a discovery, unlòess this has been somehow lost.

As very minor points, the "Bonhomme d'Ampère" is an interesting historical tidbit per se, but is quite less known outside of France, and globally the "right hand rule" is more widely known. Hints that the "Bonhomme" provides this same information than the "hand" could be appropriate.

For what concerns the Telegraph invention there were people before Ampère, indeed mid 1700 an (electrostatic) telegraph was proposed, of course on negligible distances, but with Volta's invention of the Pile "electrolytic" telegraphs were soon proposed (before 1810) well before Oersted's and Ampère's discoveries.

Of course none of these devices were practical, but neither Ampère's first concept was, and we had to wait for further developments. Indeed the full concept of "electromagnet" cited in the proposal might have been fathered by others (Sturgeon).

But these are indeed minor quirks on a proposal fully deserving the attention of IEEE and a Milestone, in my opinion.

I also have some suggestions for Milestone Wording. Suggestions which, coming from a non-native English speaker, are of course just a simple suggestion, but, I believe that it is IEEE policy to focus on the discovery and not on the man:

In 1820 Electrodynamics, the science of interactions between electric currents, bounding magnetic phenomena and galvanism, was conceived and a clear distinction between voltage and current developed. This newborn science is a cornerstone of electromagnetism and opened the road to electrical technologies such as electromagnets, motors, generators. This achievement was due to Andre-Marie Ampère whose name, as early as 1881, is bound to the unit of electrical current.

Thank you again for the opportunity and best regards ,


Prof. Stefano SELLERI - DINFO - Univ. of Florence - Via di Santa Marta 3 50139 - Firenze. T. +39-055-2758541.

My conclusions about Electrodynamics proposal -- Tonydavies (talk) 11:28, 10 May 2022 (UTC)[edit | reply | new]

The following is a collection together of my comments on this proposal, I have not added new material.

IEEE History Milestone proposal for Electrodynamics Assessment and Review and Suggestions The development and understanding of electrodynamics was a very important achievement, and is a foundation on which many subsequent developments and achievements have been based. Therefore I have no doubt that it merits a suitably-worded History Milestone. Since the policy for IEEE History Milestones is that it is the achievement rather than the person(s) involved which is being recognised, I suggest that the TITLE should be changed. A possible alternative could be: “The discovery of electrodynamics by Ampère, 1820” This puts greater emphasis on ‘what’ was achieved rather than on who did it. Now about the citation to go on the Plaque: This is my suggested ‘re-write’ of that: In 1820, Electrodynamics was conceived and developed by André-Marie Ampère. It is the science of interactions between electric currents. He was able to make clear the distinction between voltage and current, and he brought magnetic and electrical phenomena together. Electrodynamics is the foundation for electromagnetism and is the science of interactions between electric currents. It is the basis for electrical technologies including electric motors and electric generators. This was recognised in 1881 with the international decision to use ‘ampere’ (A) as the name of the unit of electrical current.


The word “galvanism” in the original proposal for the citation is a term used in Ampère’s time, but it may not be easily understood in modern terminology, where it has a completely different meaning. Now is obsolete and misleading. That is why I suggest it is better to use a clearer phrase such as “He brought magnetic and electrical phenomena together” as a replacement for “he brought magnetic phenomena back to galvanism”. The modern use of the word ‘galvanism’ is quite different, being used by medical people for electrical methods of pain-relief, and also often used to relate to chemical effects of electric current. For these reasons, it would be better to NOT use this word at all in the citation (which is intended for understanding by the modern, generally educated but not specialist, public). I am not entirely satisfied with the word ‘discovery’ in the title. What was actually discovered was some of the “laws of electrodynamics” – which enabled Ampère to put them on a scientific and mathematical foundation. So it was the ‘laws’ which were discovered by Ampère and not ‘electrodynamics’ itself. The word ‘electrodynamics’ seems to have definitely been invented by Ampère (in the French spelling “électrodynamiques’). For example he used it in the title of a publication of his in 1826. Nowadays, in the English Language literature, the word ‘electrodynamics’ seems to be not used at all (see footnote at end). One might interpret it as related specifically to electrical and magnetic fields which are changing and not static (and of course this is where they come to have so many important applications in our lives today). The ‘changing with time’ aspect does not appear in the citation and is not really relevant to Ampère’s work. In the English translation (dated 1878) by E. Atkinson of the book “Ganot’s cours élémentaire de physique”, there is a complete short chapter entitled ELECTRODYNAMICS’, which starts with the subsection “reciprocal action of currents on currents”, describing the attraction and repelling of currents in parallel wires, and states that this has been given the name ‘electrodynamics’. So, in 1878 we can conclude that this was an accepted word in English language literature, The short chapter goes on to write about solenoids and Ampére’s ideas that all magnetic phenomena are caused by electrical current flows, including terrestrial magnetism. Having seen a suggestion that the title of the Milestone might be:

                 Ampère's discovery of the law of electrodynamics, 1820

I suggest that there is not ‘one law’ of electrodynamics, so it would be better to write ‘laws’. However, that brings a further problem, that for sure Ampère did not discover ALL the laws of electrodynamics. It might be said that James Maxwell discovered many more, which were reduced to the FOUR which we now call ‘Maxwell’s Equations’, because of the invention of Vector Calculus by Oliver Heaviside, whose work put them into this form (which Maxwell would not have himself recognised!). Moreover, the work of Faraday clearly resulted in more that could be called ‘laws’. From this it seems that the use of the word ‘law’ is best avoided altogether. Just one further idea to be considered: Since the word electrodynamics which we are discussing clearly has it is origin in Ampère’s ‘invention’ of the word as électrodynamiques, maybe it would be acceptable to put this French-language word in the title “The discovery of “électrodynamiques” by Ampère, 1820” English-speaking readers with no knowledge of French would realise that this was a French word, and know that Ampère was a Frenchman, and so I see no problem with that, and it still keeps the title short enough, and is in a sense more accurate. Footnote: is there a modern use of the word ‘electrodynamics’? The 1954 textbook by G.W. Carter “The Electromagnetic Field in its Engineering Aspects’ does not use the word Electrodynamics at all. The 1960 M.I.T. book “Electromagnetic Fields, Energy and Forces’ by Fano, Chu and Adler also does not use the word Electrodynamics. My conclusion is that the word is, in effect, obsolete in present day English usage. That does not in any way reduce the importance of what was done by Ampère in and around 1820. The extent to which this work was ‘triggered’ by learning of Oersted’s work, which it seems that Oersted deliberately ‘delayed’ for reasons related to Astrology, is relevant but does not detract from the importance of what was done in France in and around 1820.

Advocate's message to the proposer -- Savini (talk) 20:04, 11 May 2022 (UTC)[edit | reply | new]

Dear Milestone proposer

I would like to invite you to have a look at this Discussion page of your proposal where you can find the reports of two experts. Taking their comments into account , as the Advocate, I propose the following citation:

The discovery of electrodynamics by Ampère, 1820

Citation In 1820, André-Marie Ampère conceived and developed electrodynamics, the science of interactions between electric currents. He was able to make clear the distinction between voltage and current, and he brought magnetic and electrical phenomena together. Electrodynamics is the basis for electrical technologies including electromagnets, electric motors and generators. This was recognised in 1881 with the international decision to use ‘ampere’ (A) as the name of the unit of electric current.

I hope you will agree and I look forward to hearing from you. Best regards

Antonio Savini

Re: Advocate's message to the proposer -- Bouchon (talk) 14:42, 1 June 2022 (UTC)[edit | reply | new]

Dear Antonio Savini,

We would like to thank you for your synthetic suggestion. We agree with it. We also express our thanks to Stefano Selleri and Tony Davies for their careful reading of our proposal and their comments. Best regards,

Bernadette Bouchon-Meunier

Final Report from the Advocate -- Savini (talk) 10:55, 8 July 2022 (UTC)[edit | reply | new]

I think that the latest version of the citation written above incorporates the major recommendations by the experts. Definitely the name of A. Ampère should appear. Nevertheless, correctly, now in the citation the stress is on the achievement ( "Ampère' discovery") rather than on the person ("Ampère discovers"). According to our precudure, after this preliminary and positive check the proposal should be examined by the SubCommittee and then by the History Committee.

Comments and Shortcomings re: this Proposal -- Bberg (talk) 22:47, 7 August 2022 (UTC)[edit | reply | new]

Let me first say that this is a very worthy Milestone, but I hope that my comments can be addressed.

First, Expert Reviewers There are supposed to be at least 2 Expert Reviewers, but no entries are explicitly shown to be an expert review. I presume the entry by S. Selleri, professor of Electromagnetic Fields, University of Florence, Italy is intended to be an Expert Review, but there is no such indication. So, likely there is no more than one Expert Review submitted for this proposal.

Second, Inclusion of Name(s) in the Citation The citation for this proposal includes both "André-Marie Ampère" and "‘ampere’ (A)" - and obviously the ampere was named after "André-Marie Ampère." As such, due to the immense importance of this unit of electric current, it is my opinion that any Milestone citation that did not also include André's name would be incomplete. Be that as it may, there still should have been a Justification section in this proposal since this is a Requirement as set forth in the current version of the Milestone proposal procedures.

While the "Milestone Action" document as sent to members of the History Committee states that the Milestones Subcommittee has accepted this proposal's citation in its current form, it would be beneficial if a comment to this effect would be included on this Comments page, especially since the required Justification section was not created. I had the recent experience of having the proposed citation for the University of Utah's Computer Graphics Milestone proposal (2020-11) accepted by this Subcommittee after the "names" issue had been address. When this happened, I made this point clear in the comments section of that proposal. As such, there should be formal procedure of some kind to make it clear to everyone that any issue re: name(s) in the citation has been fully addressed.

I have 2 suggestions re: the citation: (1) change "electrodynamics," to "electrodynamics:" in the first sentence, and (2) combine the last 2 sentences into this one sentence: "In 1881, the First International Electrical Congress recognized electrodynamics as the basis for electromagnets, electric motors, and generators with its definition of the ‘ampere’ (A) as the unit of electric current." The latter saves 4 words, and is much more documentary. Note also that the "Historical Significance" section of the proposal should replace "first international congress of electricity" with "First International Electrical Congress."

Third, Typos in the Proposal The proposal is wonderfully written, but it does include a number of typos - some of which appear to be cut and paste errors that include repeated phrases. Thus, the proposer should carefully read through the 3 main sections of the proposal and make the necessary corrections.

As the first paragraph of the "What Obstacles" section is very long, it should be broken into 2 or 3 paragraphs. This long paragraph includes a hyperlink to OERSTED.pdf, but this file is only a citation to an 1820 document. Unless this original document can instead be hyperlinked, the citation to this document as included in OERSTED.pdf belongs at the bottom of the page, with an inline reference thereto replacing the current hyperlink.

The Precise Nature of Ampere's Achievements -- Danielmi (talk) 15:21, 9 August 2022 (UTC)[edit | reply | new]

Ampere is such a key figure in the history of electromagnetism that he would be a candidate for multiple milestones. As such, it would make sense to specify the nature of his achievements during the early 1820s more precisely. This would have the virtue of differentiating him from other pioneers like Oersted, Faraday, Maxwell, and so on, who in various ways also contributed to unifying electrical and magnetic phenomena. Many of the concepts of electrodynamics remained wooly throughout much of the nineteenth century. Electrical 'tension,' for instance, was still being used in the 1880s as a loose synonym for voltage (but not quite). The notion of voltage itself dates to 1881 when the Volt, like the Ampere, was selected as a unit of potential difference. Rather than concentrate on the voltage/current distinction, therefore, it is worth signaling Ampere's development of the concept of an electrical circuit, or the distinction between open and closed currents. And instead of 'bringing electricity and magnetism together,' we can commend experiments that led to the discovery of a fundamental physical law for the interaction between current elements, expressed in a precise mathematical form. These two achievements I believe are uniquely Ampere's. It is a testament to his great genius that they are at once conceptual, experimental, and mathematical in nature.

Re: The Precise Nature of Ampere's Achievements -- Bouchon (talk) 13:31, 16 September 2022 (UTC)[edit | reply | new]

Thank you very much for your comments and proposals. We agree with the following title and citation:

The Birth of Electrodynamics 1820-1827 Stimulated by experimental reports that an electric current could deflect a compass needle, André-Marie Ampère discovered the fundamental law of electrodynamics, the science of interactions between electric currents. He then developed the theory that electric currents are responsible for magnetism. These achievements formed the basis for electrical technologies including electric motors and generators. In 1881, the International Electrical Congress named the unit of electric current the ‘ampere’. (A)

Looking forward to a final decision of the History Committee. Many thanks to all the contributors to this discussion.

Re: Re: The Precise Nature of Ampere's Achievements -- Amy Bix (talk) 16:29, 23 September 2022 (UTC)[edit | reply | new]

very minor recommendation - I suggest putting a comma after "technologies": "basis for electrical technologies, including electric motors"

Re: Re: Re: The Precise Nature of Ampere's Achievements -- Bberg (talk) 20:38, 24 September 2022 (UTC)[edit | reply | new]

I agree with Amy's suggestion. I also suggest changing the comma following "electrodynamics" in the first sentence to either a colon or an em dash.

As the background information describes 1820-1826 as the critical years of Ampère's work, I suggest changing the concluding year in the Title section from 1827 to 1826, making it "1820-1826." The "1820" in the "Year of range of years" section just above the Title section should also show "1820-1826."

Information in the "What obstacles" and "What features" sections should be broken into more paragraphs for easier reading.

Thank you for a nice submission!

Re: Re: Re: Re: The Precise Nature of Ampere's Achievements -- Jbart64 (talk) 19:29, 27 September 2022 (UTC)[edit | reply | new]

I fully support this Milestone proposal and the final recommendations and edits. Dave Bart