Samuel Hunter Christie

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Samuel Hunter Christie (1784-1865) was a British scientist and mathematician. The son of James Christie, founder of the Christie's auction house, he studied mathematics at Trinity College, Cambridge. He was particularly interested in magnetism, studying the earth's magnetic field and designing improvements to the magnetic compass. Some of his magnetic research was done in collaboration with Peter Barlow. He became a fellow of the Royal Society in 1826, and served as its Secretary from 1837 to 1853. In 1833 he published his 'diamond' method, the forerunner of the Wheatstone bridge, in a paper1 on the magnetic and electrical properties of metals, as a method for comparing the resistances of wires of different thicknesses. However, the method went unrecognised until 1843, when Charles Wheatstone proposed it, in another paper2 for the Royal Society, for measuring resistance in electrical circuits. Although Wheatstone presented it as Christie's invention, it is his name, rather than Christie's, that is now associated with the device.

Christie taught mathematics at the Royal Military Academy in Woolwich from 1838 until his retirement in 1854. A portrait photograph of Christie in 1865 by Ernest Edwards is held by the National Portrait Gallery. His eldest son was the astronomer William Henry Mahoney Christie (1845-1922).

Marriages

  1. Elizabeth Theadora (died c.1844; source: Posting on RootsWeb (http://archiver.rootsweb.com/th/index/LONDON/2000-04))
  2. Margaret Ellen (married c.1844; source: Woolwich churchyard inscription (http://www.kentarchaeology.org.uk/Research/Libr/MIs/MIsWoolwich/MIsWoolwich451-903.htm))

References

  • 1. "Experimental Determination of the Laws of Magneto-electric Induction in different masses of the same metal, and its intensity in different metals.", Royal Society Bakerian Lecture, 1833.
  • 2. "An Account of Several New Instruments and Processes for Determining the Constants of a Voltaic Circuit", Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, vol. 133, 1843, pp. 303--329.
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