Heinrich von Wild (1833-1902) and his Polaristrobometer
Born near Zurich, Heinrich Wild studied physics and became in 1858 professor at the University of Bern. In 1868, he was called to the direction of the Central Physical (Meteorological) Observatory in Saint-Petersburg. During his 27 years in Russia, he was busy studying meteorology and terrestrial magnetism, enormously extending the network of observing stations in Russia, publishing results, working on the improvement and standardisation of meteorological instruments and actively participating in international conferences. He was also concerned with the standardisation of weights and measures. Still at Bern in 1864, he used the very sensitive Savart polariscope to produce his “Polaristrobometer”, the first practical and commercially successful polarimeter/saccharimeter using monochromatic light. It remained one of the most sensitive instruments until the beginning of the 20th c. After his retirement to Zurich in 1895, Wild was again trying to improve it.