Michelson was born in Strzelno, a small town in Poland (Strzelno, then part of the Kingdom of Prussia), and his father was a Jewish businessman. When Michelson was only two years old, the family immigrated to the United States and lived in the mining town of Murphy in California and Virginia City in Nevada with his father as a businessman.
In 1869, Michelson entered the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, the capital of Maryland, and graduated in 1873. Michelson was fascinated by science, especially the measurement of the speed of light.
In 1881, the Navy appointed him to study in Europe for two years.
In 1883, he accepted an invitation from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, to become a professor of physics there, and focused on researching and improving interferometers.
In 1887, he and Edward Morey conducted the famous Michelson-Morey experiment, which ruled out the existence of ether. Later, he turned to the use of astronomical optical interferometry to measure the diameter of stars and the measurement of double star beam splitters.
Since 1889, he has been a professor at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts.
In 1892, he was assigned to a brand-new university, the University of Chicago, as the first director of the physics department.
In 1907, Michelson "invented the optical interferometer and used it for spectroscopy and basic metrological investigations" (for his optical precision instruments and the spectroscopic and metrological investigations carried out with their aid) Become the first winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics in the United States.
Michelson died in Pasadena, California on May 9, 1931.
In 1907, he won the Copley Medal (Copley Medal).
In 1916, he won the Henry Draper Medal.
In 1923, he won the Gold Medal of the Naval Astronomical Association.
Commemoration of Later Generations
A crater on the moon bears his name.