Johann Jakob Balmer

Born: 1 May 1825 in Lausanne, Basel-Land, Switzerland
Died: 12 March 1898 in Basel, Switzerland

[Mathematiker Bild]

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Balmer's doctorate from Basel was for a dissertation on the cycloid. He taught in Basel all his life both as a school teacher and as a university lecturer at the University of Basel. His main field of interest was geometry.

However Balmer is best remembered for his work on spectral series and his formula, given in 1885, for the wavelengths of the spectral lines of the hydrogen atom. The reason why the formula holds was not understood until the work of Niels Bohr in 1913.

References (4 books/articles)

References elsewhere in this archive:

Tell me about the cycloid

There is a Crater Balmer on the moon. You can see a list of lunar features named after mathematicians.

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JOC/EFR December 1996