In the 1820s, British physicist and chemist Michael Faraday sprinkled iron filings on a piece of paper and guided an electromagnet beneath it to illustrate lines of magnetic force. Since then, generations of students have learned about the principle of magnetic fields and other basics of electromagnetism from repeating this simple exercise. Faraday's discovery of magnetic fields remains one of the most significant contributions to science, and provided the foundation for the development of the telegraph and other important innovations.
In addition to being credited for his achievements in electromagnetism, electricity, and physics, Faraday also contributed to analytical and organic chemistry ...view middle of the document...
This was Faraday's first trip outside of London, and it broadened his horizons immensely. He climbed Mt. Vesuvius, visited a French laboratory, and experimented with glowworms. While in Florence, Davy and Faraday burned a diamond and concluded that it was composed of pure carbon, much to the dismay of many diamond owners.
After returning from his trip throughout Europe, Faraday was promoted to "Assistant in the Laboratory and Mineral Collection and Superintendent of the Apparatus" at the Royal Institution. Faraday and Davy continued to collaborate, and in 1816 they invented a safety lamp for miners.
By 1819, Faraday had distinguished himself as one of the most prominent chemists in England. He was the first to liquefy certain gases, such as carbon dioxide, which were previously thought incapable of undergoing change. Faraday's lab work was quite dangerous, and he suffered minor injuries from accidents with chlorine and other substances. Some of these experiments resulted in the discovery of tetrachloroethene, now commonly called PERC and used in dry cleaning, as a water repellent, and as an industrial cleaning solution.
In the early 1820s, the British Admiralty requested the assistance of Davy and Faraday in finding a way to prevent the corrosion of copper-plated ship bottoms. After solving this problem, the chemists moved on to another challenge, to improve optical glass, which would allow for more accurate navigation.
In 1825, Davy retired and Faraday was selected to replace him as the director of the laboratory at the Royal Institution. He discovered benzene and naphthalene, which later became important to the development of the pharmaceutical industry. He researched the composition and manufacture of alloy steels, and his work resulted in the first steel razors.
Despite his success, Faraday was not interested in obtaining patents or working in the manufacturing sector, which would have made him quite wealthy. Instead, he used his talents to seek out scientific truths and to share his findings freely with the world.
In December 1826, Faraday began offering a series of lectures for children at the Royal Institution, intended to spark an early interest in science. Referred to as the "Christmas Lectures," they demonstrated his interest in education and his talent for communicating with children. Topics included magnetism, electricity and gravitation. Many of these lectures became standard curricular materials in schools around the world. The most well known lecture, "Chemical History of a Candle," was first published in 1861 and remains in print today. The popular lecture series was continued throughout the twentieth century by Faraday's successors, and in recent years, has been transmitted to millions of children via television. In addition to his lectures for children, Faraday began the "Friday Evening Discourses" for the general public, and also lectured to members of the Royal Institution. He also published dozens of scholarly articles. In...