Otto Von Guericke

Otto Von Guericke

German scientist, inventor and politician.
Date of Birth: 20.11.1602
Country: Germany

  1. Biography of Otto von Guericke
  2. Early Life and Education
  3. Political Challenges
  4. Scientific Contributions
  5. Later Years and Legacy

Biography of Otto von Guericke

Otto von Guericke was a German scientist, inventor, and politician. He is best known for his work in the field of vacuum physics and his creation of experimental equipment to demonstrate electrostatic repulsion. He was also a proponent of the theories of "remote interaction" and "absolute space".

Otto Von Guericke

Early Life and Education

Otto von Guericke was born in Magdeburg, Germany. In 1617, he became a student at Leipzig University. However, his studies were interrupted by the Thirty Years' War, forcing him to seek educational opportunities elsewhere in the country. He completed his education with a 9-month trip to France and England. Upon returning to Magdeburg in 1626, von Guericke got married.

Political Challenges

Von Guericke did not share the enthusiasm of the townspeople for Gustavus Adolphus, which did not help him when Magdeburg fell in May 1631. Although he managed to survive, he lost his freedom and a large portion of his wealth. He worked as an engineer for some time and was able to return to his family in February 1632. Over the next 10 years, von Guericke actively participated in the reconstruction of the heavily damaged city. He also dedicated much of his time to public service, even serving as the mayor for a period of time. He frequently participated in diplomatic missions as well.

Scientific Contributions

In 1654, Otto von Guericke had the opportunity to demonstrate his vacuum experiments to high-ranking officials of the Holy Roman Empire. His work eventually caught the attention of Robert Boyle, who was conducting similar research and was highly interested in von Guericke's findings. Von Guericke continued his scientific endeavors and focused on his life's work, the book "Ottonis de Guericke Experimenta Nova (ut vocantur) Magdeburgica de Vacuo Spatio". In this book, he meticulously documented his experiments with vacuum and electrostatics, becoming the first to clearly demonstrate electrostatic repulsion. Although von Guericke claimed to have finished the work on the book in May 1663, it was not published until 9 years later.

Later Years and Legacy

In the 1660s, it became clear that Magdeburg's attempts to gain the status of a free city had failed. The citizens signed an agreement to allow Brandenburg soldiers to garrison the city and agreed to pay tribute to Elector Friedrich Wilhelm I. However, this turned out to be beneficial for von Guericke in many ways, as the elector was a patron of the sciences. Von Guericke's published book, "Experimenta Nova", even included a dedication to Friedrich Wilhelm, as he owed much to the elector by that time. In 1666, von Guericke was granted a noble title by Emperor Leopold I. It was at this time that he changed his surname from "Gericke" to "Guericke" and added the prefix "von" to his name. In 1667, he retired from his previous civil positions in response to long-standing requests. In 1681, Otto von Guericke and his second wife, Dorothea, left Magdeburg to escape an outbreak of plague and settled in Hamburg with their son, Hans Otto. It was in Hamburg that Otto von Guericke passed away on May 11, 1686. His body was buried in Magdeburg.