André-Marie Ampère

When we talk about someone or something being “amped up,” we’re referencing André-Marie Ampère (1775-1836), who was born into wealth in France, though that came with disadvantages. His father was guillotined by revolutionaries in 1793, when young Ampère was just 18. He was not formally trained, but his father had encouraged him to study on his own and he began teaching himself advanced mathematics at age 12.

Although Ampère had no formal qualifications, he became a full professor of mathematics at the École Polytechnique and the Collège de France, and was a member of the French Academy of Sciences. He was one of the founders of the science of classical electromagnetism, which he referred to as electrodynamics. He devised Ampere’s Law, an equation connecting the size of a magnetic field to the electric current that produces it.

The 1881 International Exposition of Electricity established the ampere as a standard unit of electrical measurement as the rate of electron flow or current in an electrical conductor. The formal definition of ampere is “one coulomb of electrical charge moving past a specific point in one second.” Recursively, a coulomb is defined as “the charge carried by one ampere during one second.”

Fun facts: Ampère also proposed the existence of a particle known as the electron and discovered the element flourine.