Faraday

Faraday

[far-uh-dee, -dey]
Faraday, Michael, 1791-1867, English scientist. The son of a blacksmith, he was apprenticed to a bookbinder at the age of 14. He had little formal education, but acquired a store of scientific knowledge through reading and by attending educational lectures including, in 1812, one by Sir Humphry Davy. The following year he became Davy's assistant at the Royal Institution in London. Faraday was made a member of the institution in 1823 and a fellow of the Royal Society in 1824. In 1825 he became director of the laboratory, and from 1833 he was Fullerian professor of chemistry at the Royal Institution. He subsequently declined knighthood and the presidency of the Royal Society.

Faraday's experiments yielded some of the most significant principles and inventions in scientific history. He developed the first dynamo (in the form of a copper disk rotated between the poles of a permanent magnet), the precursor of modern dynamos and generators. From his discovery of electromagnetic induction (1831; also independently discovered by the American Joseph Henry) stemmed a vast development of electrical machinery for industry. In 1825 he discovered the compound benzene. In addition to other contributions he did research on electrolysis, formulating Faraday's law. He also laid the foundations of the classical electromagnetic field theory, later fully developed by J. C. Maxwell. Some of his works were collected as Experimental Researches in Electricity (3 vol., 1839-55) and Experimental Researches in Chemistry and Physics (1859).

See his diary (ed. by T. Martin, 7 vol., 1932-36); his correspondence (ed. by L. P. Williams, 2 vol., 1971); biographies by T. Martin (1934), L. P. Williams (1965), G. Cantor (1991), and J. Hamilton (2005); study by D. Gooding and F. A. James, ed. (1986).

(born Sept. 22, 1791, Newington, Surrey, Eng.—died Aug. 25, 1867, Hampton Court) English physicist and chemist. Son of a blacksmith, he received only a basic education in a church Sunday school, but he went to work as an assistant to Humphry Davy, from whom he learned chemistry. He discovered a number of new organic compounds, including benzene, and was the first to liquefy a “permanent” gas. His major contributions were in the fields of electricity and magnetism. He was the first to report induction of an electric current from a magnetic field. He invented the first electric motor and dynamo, demonstrated the relation between electricity and chemical bonding, discovered the effect of magnetism on light, and discovered and named diamagnetism. He also provided the experimental, and much of the theoretical, foundation on which James Clerk Maxwell built his electromagnetic field theory. In 1833 he was appointed professor at the Royal Institution. After 1855 he retired to a house provided by Queen Victoria, but he declined a knighthood.

Learn more about Faraday, Michael with a free trial on Britannica.com.

(born Sept. 22, 1791, Newington, Surrey, Eng.—died Aug. 25, 1867, Hampton Court) English physicist and chemist. Son of a blacksmith, he received only a basic education in a church Sunday school, but he went to work as an assistant to Humphry Davy, from whom he learned chemistry. He discovered a number of new organic compounds, including benzene, and was the first to liquefy a “permanent” gas. His major contributions were in the fields of electricity and magnetism. He was the first to report induction of an electric current from a magnetic field. He invented the first electric motor and dynamo, demonstrated the relation between electricity and chemical bonding, discovered the effect of magnetism on light, and discovered and named diamagnetism. He also provided the experimental, and much of the theoretical, foundation on which James Clerk Maxwell built his electromagnetic field theory. In 1833 he was appointed professor at the Royal Institution. After 1855 he retired to a house provided by Queen Victoria, but he declined a knighthood.

Learn more about Faraday, Michael with a free trial on Britannica.com.

Faraday's law

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