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Jeff Spencer Modernist Wire Sculpture 13

Michelson Interference Wave

Albert Abraham Michelson was born December 19, 1852 and died May 9, 1931. He was an American physicist known for his work on the measurement of the speed of light and especially for the Michelson-Morley experiment. In 1907 he received the Nobel Prize in Physics. He became the first American to receive the Nobel Prize in sciences for his work in astronomical interferometry.

Michelson was a Polish-born Jew. He emigrated to the United States with his parents in 1855, when he was two years old. He grew up in the rough mining towns of Murphy's Camp, California near Grass Valley, and Virginia City, Nevada, where his father was a merchant. He spent his high school years in San Francisco in the home of his aunt, Henriette Levy, the mother of author Harriet Lane Levy.

President Ulysses S. Grant awarded Michelson a special appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy in 1869. During his four years as a midshipman at the Academy, Michelson excelled in optics, heat and climatology as well as drawing.

Michelson was fascinated with the problem of measuring the speed of light. In 1887 he and Edward Morley carried out the famous Michelson-Morley experiment and began to design and build astronomical interferometers in the measurement of stellar diameters and specifically binary star separation.

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