American physicist, b. 1852, d. 1931. Michelson was born in Prussia but his family emigrated to the US when he was 2 years old. He was educated at the U. S. Naval Academy and was on active duty for awhile before returning to the Academy to teach. He obtained a leave of abscence to travel to Europe for study. He visited the Universities of Berlin and Heidelberg, and the College de France and École Polytechnique in Paris. When he returned, he resigned from the navy, and took a teaching position at the Case School of Applied Science. Positions at the Clark University and the University of Chicago followed. During WWI, he rejoined the navy. Afterwards he returned to Chicago, but resigned in 1929 to work at the Mount Wilson Observatory.

In Michelson's career, he was involved in many areas of physics, but truly excelled in optics. He measured the speed of light quite delicately, and together with E. W. Morley, constructed the interferometer which disproved the existence of ether (as well, it proved that light travelled at the same speed in all directions and helped pave the way for Einstein's Theory of Relativity). At the request of the International Committee of Weights and Measures, he measured the standard meter in terms of the wavelength of cadmium light. Later in his career, he became interested in astronomy and made one of the first accurate measurements of the diameter of a star (Betelgeuse).

He was awarded the 1907 Nobel Prize in physics

"for his optical precision instruments and the spectroscopic and metrological investigations carried out with their aid"

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