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GERTS Genrich Rudolf
(22-nd February 1857, Hamburg – 1-st January 1894, Bonn )
150-th anniversary of the birthday

This year the mankind celebrate 150-th anniversary of the birthday of the famous German physicist – Genrich Gerts. He had been graduated from the Berlin university. In 1885- 1889 he worked as a professor of physics at the technical university of Karlsruhe. From 1889 – professor of physics at the Bonn university. The principle achievement of Gerts – experimental confirmation of electromagnetic theory of light by James Maxwell. Gerts discovered existence of electromagnetic waves in Karlsruhe. He investigated reflection, interference, diffraction and polarization of electromagnetic waves in details; proved their rate to equal the rate of light and that light represents by itself a kind of electromagnetic waves.
The main scientific papers of G.Gerts are: “About induction in a rotating sphere”, “About rather prompt electrical oscillations”, “ About relationship between light and electricity”, “ About the principle equations of electrodynamics for moving bodies”, “About influence of ultraviolet light on electrical discharge”, “Principles of mechanics stated in new communication”.
Genrich Gerts was born on 22-nd of February in the family of lawyer. Gerts studied fine and was unsurpassed pupil by his ingenuity. He liked all the subjects, liked to compose verses and to work on turning machine tool. His weak health harmed to Gerts during all his life, to regret.
In 1875 after graduating gymnasium Gerts entered at first to Dresden, and then to Munhen high technical school. Everything was all right till the time when general subjects were studied. But when specialization began Gerts changed his decision. He does not want to be narrow specialist, he aspires to scientific work and he entered to Berlin university. Here famous Helmholtz became by his direct instructor. With great wish Gerts aspires to study in physical laboratory. Helmholtz suggested to Gerts the problem from electrodynamics: if an electric current has kinetic energy? Helmholtz wanted to direct efforts of his pupil into the field of electrodynamics, because he considered it to be the most confused.
Gerts begins to solve the task which was expected for nine months. He makes devices himself and adjusts them. During this work characteristics of researcher were revealed: persistence, rare diligence and art of an experimenter. The task was solved in three months. The result coincided with Helmholtz’s point of view although it was erroneous. But Helmholtz was not mistaken in ability of the young man. “ I could see that I had matter with the pupil of unusual talent” – he noticed later. The work of Gerts was awarded by premium. When he returned after summer vocations of 1879 Gerts had got permission to work with other theme “About induction in a rotating sphere” taken as doctor dissertation. It was a theoretical work. He assumed to finish it in twothree months, to defend it and get rank of doctor, although the university was not finished. He worked with large raising and enthusiasm and he finished his investigation quickly. The defence was successful, he got rank of doctor with “excellent insignia”. Such phenomenon was very rare, especially for a student.
From 1883 to1885 Gerts was a chief of theoretical physics chair in provincial Keel, where physical laboratory was absent at all. Gerts studies here theoretical problems – tries to prove universality of electrodynamic theories of long-range interaction. As a result of the work Gerts wrote his own system of equations from which equations of Maxwell could get easily.
In 1885 Gerts took invitation of technical school in Karlsruhe, where his famous experiments connected with electric force spreading will be fulfilled. He found two inductive coils in physical laboratory of the school and carried out demonstrations with them on lectures. Gerts discovered that with their help one can produce fast electrical oscillations with period 10 −8 . In these experiments Gerts created not only high-frequency generator, but resonator too – receiver of these oscillations.
After numerous experiments Gerts made the conclusion about existence of electromagnetic waves which spread with definite speed. He proved the complete analogy of electromagnetic waves and light ones after studying laws of reflection and diffraction, and establishing polarization phenomenon. All of that were given in the paper “About rays of electrical force”, printed in December of 1888. This year is considered to be the year of discovering electromagnetic waves and experimental supporting of Maxwell theory.
This hard work of Gerts did not pass unpunishedly for his weak health. At first, his eyes refused, then ears, tooth and nose were ill. Soon general blood infection began, due to it famous 37 years old scientist Genrich Gerts died.
Gerts finished large work which was begun by Faraday. If Maxwell transformed imaginations of Faraday into mathematical symbols, but Gerts converted them into visible and heard electromagnetic waves, which became eternal monument for him. We remember Gerts when we listen to the radio, watch television, when we hear information about new space ships starting-up and stable radio connection exists with them. It was not occasionally that the first words of the Russian physicist A.Popov which he transferred with the help of wireless line were: “Genrich Gerts”.

Ass. Prof., Ph.D. A.Pomytkin
National Technical University “Kiev Polytechnical Institute”
Kiev, Ukraine
October 2007