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Lodge, Sir Oliver (Joseph)

radio waves transmitted phenomena

(1851–1940) British physicist: pioneer of radio telegraphy.

Lodge was born in Penkhull in the Potteries, in Staffordshire, where his father was a supplier of pottery materials. The family was prolific; Oliver Lodge had 12 children, he was the eldest of 9, and his thrice-married grandfather had 25 children.

After working for his father for 7 years, he studied physics at the Royal College of Science and at University College, London. In 1881 he was appointed professor of physics at Liverpool, and in 1900 became the first principal of the University of Birmingham.

Lodge performed early experiments in radio, showing in 1888 that radiofrequency waves could be transmitted along electric wires. Simultaneously, however, demonstrated that such waves could be transmitted through air, establishing the basis for radio communication and somewhat overshadowing Lodge’s work. Lodge went on, however, to make useful technical advances, designing an improved radio detector (based on the drop in resistance of some metallic powders when exposed to electromagnetic radiation) and demonstrating a form of radio telegraphy in 1894. He was the first person to attempt to detect radio waves from celestial objects. In the 1880s the experiments had shown that the ‘ether’ did not exist unless it moved with the Earth, but in 1893 Lodge devised an ingenious experiment that demonstrated that even a stationary ether did not exist. In later years he devoted much effort to the scientific investigation of extrasensory perception and psychic phenomena.

His interest in spark phenomena led him to greatly improve the early internal combustion engine for motor cars by his invention of the spark plug to ignite the mixture; two of his sons set up a company to manufacture it.

Lodge, Thomas (1558–1625) - BIOGRAPHY, CRITICAL RECEPTION [next] [back] Locusts

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