Home Page    _ ________________ ____EDinformatics Home
Home Page
Today is
Great Minds --Great Thinkers --> More Great Thinkers

Michael Faraday

Michael Faraday (1791-1867) was a British scientist who contributed to the field of electromagnetism and invented the Bunsen burner.

Michael Faraday was born on September 22, 1791, near Elephant and Castle, London. At fourteen he apprenticed as a book-binder and during his seven year apprenticeship developed an interest in science.

After he sent Humphry Davy a sample of notes that he had made, Davy employed Faraday as his assistant. In a class-ridden society, he was not considered to be a gentleman, and it is said that Davy's wife refused to treat him as an equal and would not associate with him socially.

His greatest work was with electricity. In 1821, soon after the Danish chemist, Ørsted, discovered the phenomenon of electromagnetism, Faraday built two devices to produce what he called electromagnetic rotation: that is a continuous circular motion from the circular magnetic force around a wire. The electric generator used a magnet to generate electricity. These experiments and inventions form the foundation of modern electromagnetic technology.

Ten years later, in 1831, he began his great series of experiments in which he discovered electromagnetic induction. His demonstrations exposed the concept that electric current produced magnetism. Faraday proposed that electromagnetic forces extended into the empty space around the conductor, but did not complete his work over this proposal. Faraday's experimental visualization, of lines of flux emanating from charged bodies, was mathematically modelled by James Clerk Maxwell, which has evolved into the generalization known as field theory.

In 1845 he discovered what is now called the Faraday effect and the phenomenon that he named diamagnetism. The plane of polarization of linearly polarized light propagated through a material medium can be rotated by the application of an external magnetic field aligned in the propagation direction. He wrote in his notebook, "I have at last succeeded in illuminating a magnetic curve or line of force and in magnetising a ray of light". This established that magnetic force and light were related.

In the work on static electricity, Faraday demonstrated that the charge only resided on the exterior of a charged conductor, and exterior charge had no influence on anything enclosed within a conductor; this shielding effect is used in what is now known as a Faraday cage.

He gave a successful series of lectures on the chemistry and physics of flames at the Royal Institution, entitled `The Natural History of a candle'; this was the origin of the Christmas lectures for young people that are still given there every year.

The unit of capacitance, the farad is named after him; his picture has been printed on British £20 banknotes.

Faraday's sponsor and mentor was John 'Mad Jack' Fuller, who created the Fullerian Professorship of Chemistry at the Royal Institution. Faraday was the first, and most famous, holder of this position to which he was appointed for life.

He died at his house at Hampton Court on August 25, 1867.

See also

  • Faraday's Diary, ¶ 7718, 30 Sept. 1845 and ¶ 7504, 13 Sept. 1845



More Great Thinkers and Great Minds
Marie Curie
Pablo Picasso
Edwin Hubble
Jean Piaget
Robert Boyle
Rene Descartes
Miguel de Cervantes
Friedrich Nietzsche
Michelangelo Buonarroti
Gary Kasparov
Galileo Galilei
Dmitri Mendeleev
Albert Einstein
Isaac Newton
Leonhard Euler
Enrico Fermi
Joseph Louis Lagrange
Carl Friedrich Gauss
Bernhardt Riemann
Kurt Gödel
William Shakespeare
Betrand Russell
Charles Darwin
Fyodor Dostoevsky
Leo Tolstoy
Niels Bohr
Linus Pauling
Leonardo Da Vinci
Blaise Pascal
Michael Faraday
James Clerk Maxwell
Alan Turing
Sigmund Freud
Gottfried Leibniz
Max Planck
Aleksandr Pushkin
Ivan Pavlov
Pierre de Fermat




Questions or Comments?
Copyright © 1999 EdInformatics.com
All Rights Reserved.