On this day, 1820, danish scientist Hans Christian Ørsted is the first to identify electromagnetism, when he observes a compass needle.
He showed by experiment that an electric current flowing through a wire could move a nearby magnet. The discovery of electromagnetism set the stage for the eventual development of our modern technology-based world. Oersted also discovered the chemical compound piperine and achieved the first isolation of the element aluminum.
The British Royal Society awarded Oersted the 1820 Copley Medal, the greatest prize in science, for his discovery of electromagnetism.