Scientist. ADanish physicist and chemist, he discovered that electric current in a wire can deflect a magnetized compass needle. This discovery inspired the development of electromagnetic theory. He also discovered piperine, one of the pungent components of pepper, in 1820. This was a significant contribution to the field of chemistry, as was his preparation of metallic aluminum in 1825. In 1932, the name oersted was given for the physical unit of magnetic field strength.