German physicist, professor at the University of Göttingen. Conducted many electrical experiments and discovered the "figures" that bear his name. These are formed by electrified colored powders (sulfur and red lead) in the presence of charges on an insulating body. Was also a writer, famous for his aphorisms. His wide-ranging interests led him to work in meteorology, vulcanology, and physiognomics. One of the first to investigate the unconscious.