Heinrich Hertz Spark of Knowledge

AS MARINERS, WE CAN’T CLAIM HEINRICH HERTZ all to ourselves. His discovery of radio waves has had an impact far beyond the watery world. Still, his work has played a key role in maritime communications and navigation that is, perhaps, unmatched by any other scientist’s. ¶ When he constructed his “oscillator” and then used it to jump sparks between a gap, creating pulses of electromagnetic waves that were detectable several feet away through thin air, Hertz wrote: “I do not think that the wireless waves I have discovered will have any practical application.” ¶ Within a decade, radio signals would be broadcast across the Atlantic Ocean.

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