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Johann Georg Tralles (October 15, 1763 – November 19, 1822) was a German mathematician and physicist.

He was born in Hamburg, Germany and was educated at the University of Göttingen beginning in 1783. He became a professor at the University of Bern in 1785. In 1810, he became a professor of mathematics at the University of Berlin.

In 1798 he served as the Swiss representative to the French metric convocation, and was a member of its committee on weights and measures. An iron "committee" meter, a duplicate of the prototype archive meter, was then given as a gift to Ferdinand Rudolph Hassler. From 1803 until 1805 these two men worked together on a topological survey of the Canton of Bern.

In 1819, he discovered the Great Comet of 1819, Comet Tralles, named after him.[1]

He was the inventor of the alcoholometer, a device for measuring the amount of alcohol in a liquid.

He died in London, England. The crater Tralles on the Moon is named after him, as is the alcoholometer he invented.


  1. ^ Kronk, Gary W. (2003). "C/1819 N1 (Great Comet or Tralles)". Cometography: A Catalog of Comets. Volume 2: 1800–1899. Cambridge University Press. pp. 47–53. ISBN 0521585058.


  • "Der erste Ordinarius für Mathematik an der Universität Berlin", Eine Edition seiner Antrittsvorlesung, 1810.
  • "Beytrag zur Lehre von der Elektrizität" Bern, Haller, 1786

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