Felix Savart

From Citizendium
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This article is developing and not approved.
Main Article
Related Articles  [?]
Bibliography  [?]
External Links  [?]
Citable Version  [?]
This editable Main Article is under development and subject to a disclaimer.

Félix Savart (30 June 1791 Mézières – 16 March 1841 Paris) was a French physicist, best known for the Biot-Savart law.

Initially Félix Savart wanted to become a medical doctor and spent around two years from 1808 to 1810 studying at a hospital in Metz. In 1810 Savart became a regimental surgeon in Napoleon's army. After the defeat of Napoleon in 1814, Savart was discharged from the army and resumed his medical training at the university of Strasbourg. Two years later he graduated with a medical degree.

After returning to Metz in 1817 where he set up a medical practice, Savart spent more time studying physics than treating patients. He became fascinated with a study of the acoustics of musical instruments such as the violin. In 1819 he decided to go to Paris, among other reasons, to see Jean-Baptiste Biot so that he could discuss with him the acoustics of musical instruments. Biot found Savart's work very interesting and he presented Mémoire sur la construction des instruments à cordes et à archet [memoir on the construction of bowed string instruments] that Savart had written to the Académie des Sciences, it was published in 1819.

When Savart arrived in Paris, Biot was undertaking research on electricity. The two began a collaboration and when, early in 1820, Hans Christian Oersted reported that a compass needle placed near a wire carrying current pointed at right angles to the wire, they began to investigate the magnetic field produced by the wire and discovered what today is called the Biot-Savart law, which they presented to the Académie des Sciences on 30 October 1820. A joint Biot-Savart paper was later published in the Annales de chimie et de physique in 1820.

Biot helped Savart find a teaching position in Paris and from 1820 he taught science in a private school there. On 5 November 1827, Savart was elected to the physics section of the Académie des Sciences to replace Fresnel who had died in July of that year. He taught at the Collège de France, becoming a professor of general and experimental physics in 1836 there to succeed Ampère. He continued to hold this position until his death in 1841 at the age of forty-nine.

He also developed the Savart disk, a device which produced a sound wave of known frequency, using a rotating cog wheel as a measuring device.


V. A. McKusick and H. K. Wiskind, Félix Savart (1791–1841), Physician-Physicist: Early Studies Pertinent to the Understanding of Murmurs, J. Hist. Med. Allied Sci. vol. 14 pp. 411-423 (1959).

External link

McTutor biography of Savart