C.P. Steinmetz, German-American Mathematician - stock photo
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C.P. Steinmetz, German-American Mathematician

Charles Proteus Steinmetz (April 9, 1865 - October 26, 1923) was a German-American mathematician and electrical engineer. He fostered the development of alternating current that made possible the expansion of the electric power industry in the United States, formulating mathematical theories for engineers. He made ground-breaking discoveries in the understanding of hysteresis that enabled engineers to design better electric motors for use in industry. He suffered from dwarfism, hunchback, and hip dysplasia, as did his father and grandfather. He was on the verge of finishing his doctorate in 1888 when he came under investigation by the German police for activities on behalf of a socialist university group which led him to he emigrate to the United States in 1889. One of his research projects was centered with the phenomena of lightning. He undertook a systematic study of it, resulting in experiments of man-made lightning in the laboratory. Steinmetz was called the "forger of thunderbolts," being the first to create artificial lightning in his GE football field-sized laboratory and high towers, using 120,000 volt generators. He erected a lightning tower to attract lightning and studied the patterns and effects of lightning hits on tree bark and in a broken mirror, resulting in several theories and ideas (like the effect of lightning on plant growth and A/C electric poles). He died in 1923 at the age of 58.

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