The New Student's Reference Work/Faraday, Michael

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Faraday (făr′ȧ-dắ), Michael, the leading physicist of the English-speaking races during the first half of the 19th century, was born in the suburbs of London on Sept. 22, 1791, and died at Hampton Court on Aug. 25, 1867. At 14 he was apprenticed to a bookbinder, and there managed to educate himself largely from the books which were brought in for binding. Having attracted the attention of Sir Humphry Davy by a set of notes which he had prepared on some lectures heard at the Royal Institution, he received an appointment as assistant in chemistry at the Royal Institution. This was the beginning of that remarkable scientific career which led Sir Humphry Davy in his later years to reply to the query: “What do you consider the greatest scientific discovery you have ever made?” “Michael Faraday.” Among Faraday's principal achievements may be mentioned: The discovery of the laws of electromagnetic induction. (See Electricity); of those of electrostatic induction; and of those of electrolysis. (See Electrolysis); of the properties of paramagnetic and diamagnetic bodies; and of a connection between light and electricity, viz., the electromagnetic rotation of polarized light.

Every student should read his Experimental Researches in Electricity. His papers on electrolysis have been edited and reprinted by Professor Goodwin in Harper's Scientific Memoirs.

Faraday was a man of the highest character and beloved by every one who knew him. Many learned societies at home and abroad sought to honor themselves by honoring him. There is a true sense in which Faraday's work was completed by Maxwell, who clothed Faraday's ideas in mathematics, and by Hertz who showed by experiment (1888) that Maxwell's mathematical inferences were correct.