Field trip
13 July 2020

Navigating Ørsted's Copenhagen

Navigating Ørsted's Copenhagen Caroline McNiel

Trace the two-centuries-old steps of the discoverer of electromagnetism.


  • Copenhagen is a very cool city. Home of great design, bike culture and hygge (kind of a Danish approach to living well that roughly translates to coziness), it's well worth the visit. As the former home of science legends Tycho Brahe, Hans Christian Ørsted and Niels Bohr, it's an especially attractive destination for geeks. In fact, 2020 is the perfect time for the science tourist to explore Copenhagen because it's the bicentennial of one of the greatest feats in science history, Ørsted's discovery of electromagnetism.

    Well, it would be the perfect time, were it not for the fact that we are all under the thumb of a global pandemic that has squashed the vacation plans of countless would-be travelers.

    Happily, fields magazine is here to fill that void. True: Most of us have no way to physically transport ourselves to the Danish capital, thanks to COVID-19. However, we can sail through space and time virtually, thanks to a short Google Earth tour we created to celebrate this 200th anniversary.

    This trip is worth the cerebral detour. Ørsted's discovery not only led to a technological revolution, it eventually paved the way for the powerful electromagnets, housed at special magnet labs across the world, that enable new discoveries about materials, energy and life itself.

    This virtual voyage allows you to follow Ørsted's footsteps through 19th century Copenhagen, where he worked as a pharmacist, discovered electromagnetism and aluminum, founded a technical college and lived with his large family for most of his long life. You can follow the tour on your laptop or desktop. You can also open the link using your tablet or phone as your time machine, either through a browser or with the free Google Earth app, which is pretty cool.

    Bon voyage! Or should we say, Hav en god tur!

  • Navigating Orsted's Copenhagen


Gif by Stephen Bilenky

Last modified on 13 July 2020