Carl Anton Bjerknes
|Died||20 March 1903 (aged 77)|
|Alma mater||University of Oslo|
|Known for||studies in hydrodynamics, mechanical explanation of gravitation|
|Awards||Gold Medal International Exposition of Electricity in Paris|
|Institutions||University of Oslo|
|Doctoral students||Sophus Lie|
Carl Anton Bjerknes (// BYURK-niss, Norwegian: [ˈbjæ̂rkneːs]; 24 October 1825 – 20 March 1903) was a Norwegian mathematician and physicist. Bjerknes' earlier work was in pure mathematics, but he is principally known for his studies in hydrodynamics.
Carl Anton Bjerknes was born in Oslo, Norway. His father was Abraham Isaksen Bjerknes and his mother Elen Birgitte Holmen. Bjerknes studied mining at the University of Oslo, and after that mathematics at the University of Göttingen and the University of Paris. In 1866 he held a chair for applied mathematics and in 1869 for mathematics. Over a fifty-year time period, Bjerknes taught mathematics at the University of Oslo and at the military college.
A pupil of Peter Gustav Lejeune Dirichlet, Gabriel Lamé and Augustin-Louis Cauchy Bjerknes worked for the rest of his life in the field of hydrodynamics. He tried to explain the electrodynamics of James Clerk Maxwell by hydrodynamical analogies and similarly he proposed a mechanical explanation of gravitation. Although he did not succeed in his attempts to explain all those things, his findings in the field of hydrodynamics were important. His experiments were shown at the first International Exposition of Electricity in Paris that ran from August 15, 1881 through to November 15, 1881 at the Palais de l'Industrie on the Champs-Élysées and at the Scandinavian naturalist meeting in Stockholm.
...for the number of great men which Norway has produced within the comparatively short period of its national existence is quite remarkable. Niels Henrik Abel was the first of a succession of eminent mathematicians, and it is not alone in mathematics that Norwegians have distinguished themselves ... [Among those] are to be found such men as Bjerknes, Peter Ludwig Mejdell Sylow and Sophus Lie in mathematics, Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson and Henrik Ibsen in literature, Edvard Grieg and Christian Sinding in music.
(W)hen at the 1881 Paris International Electric Exhibition, he (Carl Anton) and his son (Vilhelm Bjerknes), demonstrated instruments that reproduced hydrodynamic analogies, few observers could ignore these baffling phenomena. Such celebrities as Hermann von Helmholtz, Gustav Kirchhoff, William Thomson (Lord Kelvin), the Siemens brothers, and the Marquis of Salisbury visited the small Norwegian exhibit booth and watched with amazement as a system of pulsating spheres and similar devices appeared to reproduce well-known electric and magnetic phenomena. For many observers the Bjerknes apparatus seemed to illustrate that the mysterious nature of electricity could perhaps be revealed. British observers allegedly exclaimed, "Maxwell should have seen this!" Of the eleven diplômes d'honneur, seven went to non-French exhibitors, including Werner Siemens, Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell and William Thomson. Professor Carl Anton Bjerknes, representing Norway, joined their ranks.
On June 30, 1859, after returning from his foreign travels, Bjerknes married Wilhelmine Dorothea Koren (10.11.1837–21.10.1923) whose father was a minister in the Church in West Norway. His son Norwegian physicist and meteorologist, Vilhelm Bjerknes continued the work of his father.