Born September 22, 1791 Michael Faraday was a poorly educated economically challenged south London boy. He grew to become one of Britain’s foremost scientists who we remember today as the foundational thinker in the study of electromagnetism. In other words, without Faraday, there would be no electric motor.
Leaving school at 14 forced Faraday to become a self educated man. He read scientific books in his spare time as he apprenticed for a local book binder. In 1813, he finally got a job as a lab assistant at the famed Royal Institution. He worked under Humphry Davy a known chemist at the time. Faraday spent several years working in the shadow of some of Britain’s foremost scientific minds, he own thoughts unaccredited in a several experiments, studies and lectures.
In 1821, Faraday published his first solo paper on the electromagnetic radiation. It discussed the idea that charged particles produced waves. The different types and length of these waves are discussed in modern times by the use of the electromagnetic spectrum. Technical thoughts for a high school drop out.
As the years passed, Faraday established a name for himself among his fellow scientists and the students at the Royal Institution, creating a lecture series tradition that continues today. All this time, he continued his research into electromagnetism and in 1831, he determined the rules that governed electromagnetic induction.
Electromagnetic induction is the science behind the electric generator and the electric transformer. It meant that electricity could go from a novelty item of the rich to the power behind mass production, industrialization and modern manufacturing and transportation. Faraday changed the world by expanding the scientific knowledge of his era and giving it a truly practical application.
Faraday’s work and discoveries earned him many titles and honors throughout his scientific career. An unfortunate bout of ill health but a stop to further research and in late August of 1867, Faraday died. Without him, the words “electrode”, “ion” and “cathode” may never have existed and the fundamental principles behind the electric motor never thoroughly worked out.
Every school student learns that moving a magnet inside a coil of wire produces an electrical current. That was Faraday’s original experiment and took a man of humble beginnings into the books of modern world history. Michael Faraday not only discovered the role of electromagnetism but also the compound benzene reminding everyone who knew him that he was not just a physicist but a chemist, one of England’s finest.
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