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Henry Smith Carhart

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Henry Smith Carhart (1844-1920)

1920 Obituary [1]

HENRY SMITH CARHART was born in Coeyman, New York, on the 27th March, 1844, and studied at Wesleyan University (Middleton, Conn.), where he obtained the degree of B.A. in 1869, of M.A. in 1872, and of LL.D. in 1883.

He also studied at Yale University in 1871, at Harvard in 1876, and at Berlin in 1881-1882, where he was in the laboratory of von Helmholtz. During the years 1872-1886 he was Professor of Physics in North-western University, Evanston, Illinois, and from 1886 to 1909 he held a similar position in the University of Michigan, becoming Emeritus Professor of Physics in the last-mentioned year.

He was a member of the International Jury of Awards at the Paris Exposition of Electricity in 1881, President of the Board of Judges in the department of electricity at the Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893, a member of the Jury of Awards at the Buffalo Exposition in 1901, and one of the delegates of the United States to the International Electrical Congress at Chicago in 1893 and at St. Louis in 1904.

In 1901 he was the delegate of the American Institute of Electrical Engineers to the International Engineering Congress in Glasgow. He was also a delegate to the Conferences on Electrical Units and Standards at Berlin in 1905 and at London in 1908.

In 1905 he also attended the South African meeting of the British Association, and in 1909 represented the University of Michigan at the centennial celebration of the birth of Charles Darwin at Cambridge.

In 1889 he was vice-president of Section B of the American Association, for the Advancement of Science, and later served as vice-president and as president of the American Electrochemical Society. His principal subjects of research were : Standard cells, the thermodynamics of the voltaic cell, the separation of iron losses in transformers, the rotation of the magnetic field, concentration cells, and the absolute determination of the electromotive force of the Clark and cadmium standard cells. In addition to over 50 scientific papers he was the author of a series of well-known textbooks.

He first became known to the scientific world in 1881 by reason of his experimental work on voltaic cells, a subject on which in later years he was a world authority, and he was one of the pioneers of electrochemistry in the United States.

After retiring from the active duties of his profession he made his home in Pasadena, California, where in 1912 he accepted the honorary position of Research Associate in Physics in the California Institute of Technology.

He died on the 12th February, 1920.

A faithful student, he was also an inspiring teacher and an enthusiastic investigator.

He was elected a Foreign Member of the Institution in 1894 and became a Member in 1911.

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