Christopher Hansteen bigraphy, stories - Norwegian geomagnetist

Christopher Hansteen : biography

26 November 1784 - 11 April 1873

Christopher Hansteen (26 September 1784 – 11 April 1873) was a Norwegian geophysicist, astronomer and physicist, best known for his mapping of Earth's magnetic field.

Awards and legacy

Hansteen was appointed a Commander of the Royal Norwegian Order of St. Olav in 1847, and received the Grand Cross in 1855. He was also appointed a Grand Cross of the Order of the Dannebrog and a Commander Grand Cross of the Order of the Polar Star, as well as other foreign orders of knighthood. A bust of Hansteen was raised at his observatory in the 1850s.

The crater Hansteen and the mountain Mons Hansteen on the Moon is named after him. In Oslo, the road Christopher Hansteens vei at Blindern has been named after Hansteen. In addition, a street at Majorstuen was named Hansteens gate, but in 1879 it was renamed Holmboes gate in honour of Bernt Michael Holmboe. In the Møhlenpris neighbourhood in Bergen, the street Professor Hansteens gate was named after Hansteen in 1881.

Academic career

In 1807 Hansteen began the inquiries in terrestrial magnetism with which his name is especially associated.Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition His first scientific publication was printed in Journal de Physique, following a contest on magnetic axes created in 1811 by the Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters. In 1813 he was given a research scholarship by the recently established (in 1811) Royal Frederick University in Christiania, with a promise of a future academic position. After marrying Johanne Cathrine Andrea Borch in May 1814, they left for Norway in the summer. Due to the Swedish campaign against Norway in 1814, they opted to travel by sea, and was threatened by a Swedish privateer as well as seized by a British fregate en route. Reaching Norway after five days, they settled in the street Pilestredet.

Working as a lecturer from 1814, in 1816 Hansteen was promoted to professor of astronomy and applied mathematics. He was the editor of the official Norwegian almanac from 1815, manager of the city astronomical observatory from the same year and co-director of the Norwegian Mapping Authority (then known as Norges Geografiske Oppmåling) from 1817. In 1819 he published a volume of researches on terrestrial magnetism, which was translated into German under the title of Untersuchungen über den Magnetismus der Erde, with a supplement containing Beobachtungen der Abweichung und Neigung der Magnetnadel and an atlas. By the rules there framed for the observation of magnetical phenomena Hansteen hoped to accumulate analyses for determining the number and position of the magnetic poles of the Earth. In 1822 he co-founded Norway's first journal on natural sciences, Magazin for Naturvidenskaberne. He sat as editor-in-chief for eight years.

In the course of his research he travelled over Finland and the greater part of his own country; and from 1828 to 1830 he undertook, in company with Georg Adolf Erman and with the co-operation of Russia, a government-funded mission to Western Siberia. A narrative of the expedition soon appeared (Reise-Erinnerungen aus Siberien, 1854; Souvenirs d’un voyage en Sibérie, 1857); but the chief work was not issued until 1863 (Resultate magnetischer Beobachtungen). He did not conclude on the issue at hand, but his work was later completed by Carl Friedrich Gauss. Shortly after the return of the mission, in 1833 Hansteen moved with his family into the observatory, which was created from drawings by the architect Christian Heinrich Grosch. A magnetic observatory was added in 1839.

From 1835 to 1838 he published textbooks on geometry and mechanics, largely a reaction to his former research assistant Bernt Michael Holmboe's textbooks. Compared to Holmboe's method of teaching, Hansteen's books were more practically oriented. After Holmboe wrote a review of the first textbook for the newspaper Morgenbladet, in which he advised schools not to use it, a public debate followed, with contributions from other mathematicians. It has been claimed that this was the first debate on the subject of school textbooks in Norway. Holmboe's textbooks proved more lasting, with Hansteen's textbook not being reprinted. In 1842 Hansteen wrote his Disquisitiones de mutationibus, quas patitur momentum acus magneticae. He also contributed various papers to different scientific journals, especially Magazin for Naturvidenskaberne.

Living octopus

Living octopus

In countries which are located near sea coasts, sea food is an important part of national cuisine