Michael Faraday: biography of this British physicist

Today, much of the modern world operates primarily through the use of electricity. The use of this type of energy is therefore not exactly unknown to us.

But in order to be able to use lights, computers, survival equipment or rechargeable batteries, a significant number of discoveries had to be made beforehand. And although some of them date back to BC, most of the time the way of generating and applying electricity has been something that has been studied and discovered in the modern age.

One of the great pioneering personalities who made the development of studies on electricity and electromagnetism possible was Michael Faraday. He was the main discoverer of electromagnetic induction and electrolysis, the practical application made possible a very important technological development. The story of this researcher is therefore of great interest, which is why in this article let’s see a biography of Michael Faraday.

    The Life of Michael Faraday: A Brief Biography

    Michael Faraday’s birth took place on September 22, 1791, in the village of Newington Butt (now a village but part of London) in the English region of Surrey. He was the third of four brothers, the sons of blacksmith James Faraday and Margaret Hastwell.

    The Faraday family, workers and peasants, had very few resources and could only offer their offspring a basic education. At first he would go to school, but later his family decided to take him out and have him study at home.

    It was also common for children to have to contribute financially to support the family, which meant that from an early age Michael Faraday had to distribute newspapers. Also largely due to family beliefs a great religious conviction was born in him, and she was part of the sandemaniana church. This faith would be a source of peace and strength for the scientist throughout his life.

      Young people and first jobs

      In 1805, at the age of fourteen, the young Faraday began a period of apprenticeship as a bookbinder with a bookseller for whom he had previously held various commissions, George Riebau. During this period, which will last seven years, his work allows him to have deep contact with a large number of literary works. He also began to cultivate a certain predilection for electrical type phenomena, after reading various articles and books on chemistry and electricity.

      Also as his scientific interest also grew (at the same time as his disillusion with the mercantile world) and thanks to his brother he was able to begin to attend and to be part of the Philosophical Society of the city, governed by Jean Tatum.

      His contact with this group allowed him to familiarize himself with the work of chemist Humphry Davy, who was to give a series of lectures at the site. One of the band members got him tickets, so he managed to attend the lectures offered by the chemist at the Royal Institution. In them, he took a large number of notes to the point of being able to make a small booklet. Faraday decided to send a copy to Davy and ask him to work as an assistant in order to devote himself to science.

      Beginning of his science education

      Humphrey Davy received the application, and as there was an assistant vacancy and had furthermore had a small accident that left him temporarily blind, he initially accepted Faraday as secretary. When his former assistant had to be fired, he also offered the job to Michael Faraday, who became his assistant in 1813.

      Although the chemist’s wife has always shown him deep contempt and treats him like a servant, Humphry would become his protector and his master and with him Faraday was able to travel (despite the conflict of the time), work and investigate aspects such as the composition of diamonds or witness the discovery of benzene.

      He would also make a lot of contacts and basically learn chemistry. In this aspect he got to excel, so soon after returning from those trips Faraday could start giving training in this regard. In 1815, he published his first work Analyze de la lime caustique de Toscane, as well as numerous articles.

      great discoveries

      He was then asked to write opinion pieces on the scientific contributions of various authors, which would have him recreate his experiences and meet the original authors.

      It was in this context that Faraday began to make important discoveries: in 1821, he discovered the path of apply existing knowledge of electromagnetism in a first electromagnetic rotor. That same year he married a young woman he had met in his church, Sarah Barnard, and after his previous success he began to focus and do publications on the subject of electricity and magnetism.

      In 1824 he was made a fellow of the Royal Society, and a year later he was appointed director of the laboratory of the Royal Society, headed by his mentor when he met him. He started giving lectures and lectures Christmas (the Royal Institution’s Christmas lectures) and weekly (the Friday night talks).

      In 1831 he made another of his great discoveries, electromagnetic induction. During the year 1832 he discovered, or rather empirically prove the existence of electrolysis. Also at this time, more precisely in 1836, he designed the Faraday cage in order to generate an electromagnetically protected zone to prevent external electricity from reaching its interior. He has received various awards and honors, some of which have been rejected such as the presidency of the Royal Society or the title of knight.

      Another of his investigations, this time related to the study of the light force, Gave birth to the well-known Faraday effect. This effect proposes that the action of a magnetic field could affect the polarization of light, which corresponded to his idea that light, electricity and magnetism are related.

      The last years and death

      The 1860s will be those which will begin to mark the decline of this great author. Already in 1839 he had suffered from problems and a nervous breakdown, and gradually he was starting to show neuropsychiatric symptoms. He died at his home in Hampton Court at the age of 75 on August 25, 1867.

      His legacy is enormous: his research has greatly improved knowledge of electromagnetic phenomena and inspired authors such as Maxwell and Thomas Edison. Electric motors or even the light bulb could hardly have been built without his work.

      Bibliographical references:

      • Baggott, J. (1991). “The Michael Faraday Myth: Michael Faraday was not only one of the great British experimenters. A closer look at the man and his work reveals that he was also an intelligent theorist. New scientist.

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