Michelson, A(lbert) A(braham)

Michelson, A(lbert) A(braham)

biographical name

(born Dec. 19, 1852, Strelno, Prussia—died May 9, 1931, Pasadena, Calif., U.S.) Prussian-born U.S. physicist. His family immigrated to the U.S. in 1854. He studied at the U.S. Naval Academy and in Europe and later taught principally at the University of Chicago (1892–1931), where he headed the physics department. He invented the interferometer, with which he used light to make extremely precise measurements. He is best remembered for the Michelson-Morley experiment, undertaken with Edward W. Morley (1838–1923), which established that the speed of light is a fundamental constant. Using a more refined interferometer, Michelson measured the diameter of the star Betelgeuse, the first substantially accurate determination of the size of a star. In 1907 he became the first American scientist to receive a Nobel Prize.

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