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MICHELSON, Albert Abraham (1852-1931)

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MICHELSON, Albert Abraham (1852-1931), German-born American physicist and Nobel laureate, known for his famous experiment to measure the velocity of the earth through the ether. Michelson was born in Strelno (now Strzelno, Poland), brought to the U. S. as a child, and educated at the U.S. Naval Academy and at the universities of Berlin, Heidelberg, and Paris. He was professor of physics at Clark University from 1889 to 1892, and from 1892 to 1929 was head of the department of physics at the University of Chi cago. He determined with a high degree of accuracy, using apparatus of his own design, the velocity of light. In 1887 he invented the INTERFEROMETER (q.v.) , which he used in the classical experiment, performed with the American chemist Edward Williams Morley (1838-1923), to demonstrate that the motion of the earth is not measureable. The negative results of the experiment, known as the Michelson-Morley experiment, were the beginning of the development of the theory of RELATIVITY (q.v.) . Michelson was awarded the 1907 Nobel Prize in physics. His major works include Velocity of Light(1902) and Studies in Optics (1927).

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