Jacobi, Moritz Hermann von

SUBJECT AREA: Electricity
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b. 21 September 1801 Potsdam, Germany
d. 27 February 1874 St Petersburg, Russia
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German scientist who developed one of the first practical electric motors.
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After studying architecture at Göttingen University, Jacobi turned his attention to physics and chemistry. In 1835 he was appointed a professor of civil engineering at the University of Dorpat (which later assumed the Estonian name of Tartu). Later, moving to St Petersburg, he became a member of the Imperial Academy of Sciences and commenced research on electricity and its practical applications. In December 1834 Jacobi presented a paper to the Academy of Sciences in Paris in which he stated that he had obtained rotation by electromagnetic methods in May of that year. Tsar Nicholas of Russia gave him a grant to prove that his electric motor had a practical application. Jacobi had a boat constructed that measured 28 ft in length and was propelled by paddles connected to an electric motor of his own design. Powered by Grove cells, it carried about fourteen passengers at a speed of almost 3 mph (5 km/h) on the River Neva. The weight of and possibly the fumes from the batteries contributed to the abandonment of the project. In 1839 Jacobi introduced electrotyping, i.e. the reproduction of forms by electrodeposition, which was one of the first commercial applications of electricity. In 1840 he reported the results of his investigations into the power of the electromagnet as a function of various parameters to the British Association.
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Principal Honours and Distinctions
Member, Imperial Academy of Sciences, St Petersburg, 1847.
Bibliography
Jacobi's papers are listed in Catalogue of Scientific Papers, 1868, Vol. III, London: Royal Society, pp. 517–18.
1837, Annals of Electricity 1:408–15 and 419–44 (describes his motor).
Further Reading
Biography, 1876, Bulletin de l'Académie imperiale des sciences de St Petersburg 21:262–79.
E.H.Huntress, 1951, in Proceedings of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences 79: 22–3 (a short biography).
B.Bowers, 1982, A History of Electric Light and Power, London.
GW

Biographical history of technology. - Taylor & Francis e-Librar. . 2005.

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