Oersted or Ørsted, Hans Christian (häns krĭsˈtyän örˈstĭħ) [key], 1777–1851, Danish physicist and chemist. He was professor at Copenhagen from 1806. His discovery (1819) that a magnetic needle is deflected at right angles to a conductor carrying an electric current established a relationship between magnetism and electricity and initiated the study of electromagnetism. In 1825 his attempt to isolate aluminum succeeded in producing an impure form of the metal. The unit of magnetic field strength is named for him.
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