André-Marie Ampère (/ˈæmpɪər/; French: [ɑ̃pɛʁ]; 20
January 1775 – 10 June 1836) was a French physicist and
mathematician who was one of the founders of the science of classical
electromagnetism, which he referred to as "electrodynamics". He is
also the inventor of numerous applications, such as the solenoid (a
term coined by him) and the electrical telegraph. An autodidact,
Ampère was a member of the
Académie des sciences
Académie des sciences and professor at
École polytechnique and the Collège de France.
The SI unit of measurement of electric current, the ampere, is named
after him. His name is also one of the 72 names inscribed on the
1 Early life
2 French Revolution
3 Teaching career
4 Work in electromagnetism
8 Further reading
9 External links
Andre-Marie Ampère was born on 20 January 1775 to Jean-Jacques
Ampère, a prosperous businessman, and Jeanne Antoinette
Desutières-Sarcey Ampère, during the height of the French
Enlightenment. He spent his childhood and adolescence at the family
Poleymieux-au-Mont-d'Or near Lyon. Jean-Jacques
Ampère, a successful merchant, was an admirer of the philosophy of
Jean-Jacques Rousseau, whose theories of education (as outlined in his
treatise Émile) were the basis of Ampère's education. Rousseau
believed that young boys should avoid formal schooling and pursue
instead an "education direct from nature." Ampère's father actualized
this ideal by allowing his son to educate himself within the walls of
his well-stocked library.
French Enlightenment masterpieces such as
Georges-Louis Leclerc, comte de Buffon's Histoire naturelle,
générale et particulière (begun in 1749) and
Denis Diderot and Jean
le Rond d'Alembert's
Encyclopédie (volumes added between 1751 and
1772) thus became Ampère's schoolmasters. The young
Ampère, however, soon resumed his
Latin lessons, which enabled him to
master the works of
Leonhard Euler and Daniel Bernoulli.
In addition, Ampère used his access to the latest books to begin
teaching himself advanced mathematics at age 12. In later life Ampère
claimed that he knew as much about mathematics and science when he was
eighteen as ever he knew; but, a polymath, his reading embraced
history, travels, poetry, philosophy, and the natural sciences. His
mother was a devout woman, so Ampère was also initiated into the
Catholic faith along with Enlightenment science. The French Revolution
(1789–99) that began during his youth was also influential:
Ampère's father was called into public service by the new
revolutionary government, becoming a justice of the peace in a
small town near Lyon. When the
Jacobin faction seized control of the
Revolutionary government in 1792, his father Jean-Jacques Ampère
resisted the new political tides, and he was guillotined on 24
November 1793, as part of the
Jacobin purges of the period.
In 1796 Ampère met Julie Carron, and in 1799 they were married.
André-Marie Ampère took his first regular job in 1799 as a
mathematics teacher, which gave him the financial security to marry
Carron and father his first child, Jean-Jacques (named after his
father), the next year. (
Jean-Jacques Ampère eventually achieved his
own fame as a scholar of languages). Ampère's maturation corresponded
with the transition to the Napoleonic regime in France, and the young
father and teacher found new opportunities for success within the
technocratic structures favoured by the new French First Consul. In
1802 Ampère was appointed a professor of physics and chemistry at the
École Centrale in Bourg-en-Bresse, leaving his ailing wife and infant
son in Lyon. He used his time in Bourg to research mathematics,
producing Considérations sur la théorie mathématique de jeu (1802;
"Considerations on the Mathematical Theory of Games"), a treatise on
mathematical probability that he sent to the
Paris Academy of Sciences
Essai sur la philosophie des sciences
After the death of his wife in July 1803, Ampère moved to Paris,
where he began a tutoring post at the new
École Polytechnique in
1804. Despite his lack of formal qualifications, Ampère was appointed
a professor of mathematics at the school in 1809. As well as holding
positions at this school until 1828, in 1819 and 1820 Ampère offered
courses in philosophy and astronomy, respectively, at the University
of Paris, and in 1824 he was elected to the prestigious chair in
experimental physics at the Collège de France. In 1814 Ampère was
invited to join the class of mathematicians in the new Institut
Impérial, the umbrella under which the reformed state Academy of
Sciences would sit.
Ampère engaged in a diverse array of scientific inquiries during the
years leading up to his election to the academy—writing papers and
engaging in topics from mathematics and philosophy to chemistry and
astronomy, which was customary among the leading scientific
intellectuals of the day. Ampère claimed that "at eighteen years he
found three culminating points in his life, his First Communion, the
reading of Antoine Leonard Thomas's "Eulogy of Descartes", and the
Taking of the Bastille. On the day of his wife's death he wrote two
verses from the Psalms, and the prayer, 'O Lord, God of Mercy, unite
me in Heaven with those whom you have permitted me to love on earth.'
In times of duress he would take refuge in the reading of the Bible
and the Fathers of the Church."
For a time he took into his family the young student Frédéric Ozanam
(1813–1853), one of the founders of the Conference of Charity, later
known as the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul. Through Ampère, Ozanam
had contact with leaders of the neo-Catholic movement, such as
François-René de Chateaubriand, Jean-Baptiste Henri Lacordaire, and
Charles Forbes René de Montalembert. Ozanam was beatified by Pope
John Paul II in 1998.
Work in electromagnetism
In September 1820, Ampère's friend and eventual eulogist François
Arago showed the members of the French Academy of Sciences the
surprising discovery of Danish physicist
Hans Christian Ørsted
Hans Christian Ørsted that a
magnetic needle is deflected by an adjacent electric current. Ampère
began developing a mathematical and physical theory to understand the
relationship between electricity and magnetism. Furthering Ørsted's
experimental work, Ampère showed that two parallel wires carrying
electric currents attract or repel each other, depending on whether
the currents flow in the same or opposite directions, respectively -
this laid the foundation of electrodynamics. He also applied
mathematics in generalizing physical laws from these experimental
results. The most important of these was the principle that came to be
called Ampère's law, which states that the mutual action of two
lengths of current-carrying wire is proportional to their lengths and
to the intensities of their currents. Ampère also applied this same
principle to magnetism, showing the harmony between his law and French
physicist Charles Augustin de Coulomb's law of magnetic action.
Ampère's devotion to, and skill with, experimental techniques
anchored his science within the emerging fields of experimental
Ampère also provided a physical understanding of the electromagnetic
relationship, theorizing the existence of an "electrodynamic molecule"
(the forerunner of the idea of the electron) that served as the
component element of both electricity and magnetism. Using this
physical explanation of electromagnetic motion, Ampère developed a
physical account of electromagnetic phenomena that was both
empirically demonstrable and mathematically predictive. In 1827
Ampère published his magnum opus, Mémoire sur la théorie
mathématique des phénomènes électrodynamiques uniquement déduite
de l’experience (Memoir on the Mathematical Theory of Electrodynamic
Phenomena, Uniquely Deduced from Experience), the work that coined the
name of his new science, electrodynamics, and became known ever after
as its founding treatise.
In 1827 Ampère was elected a
Foreign Member of the Royal Society
Foreign Member of the Royal Society and
in 1828, a foreign member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Science.
8.10.1825: Member of the Royal Academy of Science, Letters and Fine
Arts of Belgium.
In recognition of his contribution to the creation of modern
electrical science, an international convention, signed at the 1881
International Exposition of Electricity, established the ampere as a
standard unit of electrical measurement, along with the coulomb, volt,
ohm, and watt, which are named, respectively, after Ampère's
contemporaries Charles-Augustin de
Coulomb of France, Alessandro Volta
of Italy, Georg
Ohm of Germany, and James
Watt of Scotland. Ampère's
name is one of the 72 names inscribed on the Eiffel Tower.
Several items are named after Ampère; many streets and squares,
Lyon metro station, and an electric ferry in Norway.
Considerations sur la théorie mathématique du jeu, Perisse, Lyon
Paris 1802, online lesen im Internet-Archiv
André-Marie Ampère (1822) (in French), Recueil d'observations
électro-dynamiques : contenant divers mémoires, notices,
extraits de lettres ou d'ouvrages périodiques sur les sciences,
relatifs a l'action mutuelle de deux courans électriques, à celle
qui existe entre un courant électrique et un aimant ou le globe
terrestre, et à celle de deux aimans l'un sur l'autre, Chez Crochard,
André-Marie Ampère; Babinet (Jacques, M.) (1822) (in German),
Exposé des nouvelles découvertes sur l'électricité et le
magnétisme, Chez Méquignon-Marvis,
André-Marie Ampère (1824) (in German), Description d'un appareil
électro-dynamique, Chez Crochard … et Bachelie,
André-Marie Ampère (1826) (in German), Théorie des phénomènes
électro-dynamiques, uniquement déduite de l'expérience,
André-Marie Ampère (1883 (Neuauflage)) (in German), Théorie
mathématique des phénomènes électro-dynamiques: uniquement
déduite de l'expérience, A. Hermann,
André-Marie Ampère (1834) (in German), Essai sur la philosophie des
sciences, ou, Exposition analytique d'une classification naturelle de
toutes les connaissances humaines, Chez Bachelier,
André-Marie Ampère (1834) (in German), Essai sur la philosophie des
sciences, Bd. 1, Chez Bachelier,
André-Marie Ampère (1843) (in German), Essai sur la philosophie des
sciences, Bd. 2, Bachelier,
Partial translation of some of Ampère's writing is in:
Magie, W.M. (1963). A Source Book in Physics. Harvard: Cambridge MA.
Lisa M. Dolling; Arthur F. Gianelli; Glenn N. Statile, eds. (2003).
The Tests of Time: Readings in the Development of Physical Theory.
Princeton: Princeton University Press. pp. 157–162.
ISBN 978-0691090856. .
^ "Ampère". Random House Webster's Unabridged Dictionary.
^ Dictionary of Scientific Biography. United States of America:
Charles Scribner's Sons. 1970.
^ "Andre-Marie Ampere". IEEE Global History Network. IEEE. Retrieved
21 July 2011.
^ a b One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates
text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh,
ed. (1911). "Ampère, André Marie". Encyclopædia Britannica. 1 (11th
ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 878–879.
^  Biography of Andre Marie Ampere
^ "Catholic Encyclopedia". Retrieved 29 December 2007.
^ "Library and Archive Catalogue". Royal Society. Retrieved 13 March
^ Index biographique des membres et associés de l'Académie royale de
Belgique (1769-2005) p. 15
^ "Batterifergen har måttet stå over avganger. Nå er løsningen
klar". Teknisk Ukeblad. Retrieved 19 November 2016.
Williams, L. Pearce (1970). "Ampère, André-Marie". Dictionary of
Scientific Biography. 1. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons.
pp. 139–147. ISBN 0-684-10114-9.
Hofmann, James R. (1995). André-Marie Ampère. Oxford: Blackwell.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to André-Marie Ampère.
Wikiquote has quotations related to: André-Marie Ampère
Wikisource has original works written by or about:
Ampère and the history of electricity – a French-language, edited
by CNRS, site with Ampère's correspondence (full text and critical
edition with links to manuscripts pictures, more than 1000 letters),
an Ampère bibliography, experiments, and 3D simulations
Ampère Museum – a French-language site from the museum in
Poleymieux-au-Mont-d'or, near Lyon, France
O'Connor, John J.; Robertson, Edmund F., "André-Marie Ampère",
MacTutor History of
Mathematics archive, University of St
Weisstein, Eric Wolfgang (ed.). "Ampère, André (1775-1836)".
Catholic Encyclopedia on André Marie Ampère
André-Marie Ampère: The Founder of Electromagnetism – Background
information and related experiments
Electrical units history.
Scientists whose names are used as SI units
William Thomson, 1st Baron Kelvin
Charles-Augustin de Coulomb
Louis Harold Gray
James Prescott Joule
Werner von Siemens
Rolf Maximilian Sievert
Wilhelm Eduard Weber
Scientists whose names are used as non SI units · Scientists whose
names are used in physical constants
ISNI: 0000 0001 1058 9312
BNF: cb12050947m (data)