William Sturgeon (22 May 1783 – 4 December 1850) was an English physicist and inventor who made the first electromagnets, and invented the first practical English electric motor. Sturgeon was born in Whittington, near Carnforth, Lancashire, and apprenticed to a shoemaker. He joined the army in 1802 and taught himself mathematics and physics. In 1824 he became Lecturer in Science and Philosophy at the East India Company‘s Military Seminary at Addiscombe, Surrey, and in the following year he exhibited his first electromagnet.
He displayed its power by lifting nine pounds with a seven-ounce piece of iron wrapped with wire through which a current from a single battery was sent. In 1832 he was appointed to the lecturing staff of the Adelaide Gallery of Practical Science in London, where he first demonstrated the DC electric motor incorporating a commutator.
In 1836 Sturgeon established the journal Annals of Electricity, Magnetism and Chemistry, and in the same year he invented a galvanometer. Sturgeon was a close associate of John Peter Gassiot and Charles Vincent Walker and the three were instrumental in founding the London Electrical Society in 1837.
In 1840 he became superintendent of the Royal Victoria Gallery of Practical Sciencein Manchester. He formed a close social circle with John Davies, one of the Gallery’s promoters, and Davies’ student James Prescott Joule, a circle that eventually extended to include Edward William Binney and John Leigh. The Gallery closed in 1842, and he earned a living by lecturing and demonstrating. He died in Prestwich in 1850.
An electromagnet is a type of magnet in which the magnetic field is produced by electric current. The magnetic field disappears when the current is turned off. Electromagnets are widely used as components of other electrical devices, such as motors, generators, relays, loudspeakers, hard disks, MRI machines, scientific instruments, and magnetic separation equipment, as well as being employed as industrial lifting electromagnets for picking up and moving heavy iron objects like scrap iron.
An electric motor is an electric machine that converts electrical energy into mechanical energy. In normal motoring mode, most electric motors operate through the interaction between an electric motor’s magnetic field and winding currents to generate force within the motor. In certain applications, such as in the transportation industry with traction motors, electric motors can operate in both motoring and generating or braking modes to also produce electrical energy from mechanical energy.
A galvanometer is a type of sensitive ammeter: an instrument for detecting electric current. It is n analog electromechanical actuator that produces a rotary deflection of some type of pointer in response to electric current flowing through its coil in a magnetic field.