Michael Faraday was one of the most famous scientists in history, and is known as the ‘Father of Electricity’.
He discovered many things…read on to find out more about this amazing man.
Michael Faraday was born on September 22, 1791 in London, England, UK and died on August 25 in 1867 at the age of 75.
Early Life and Education
His father was a blacksmith who wasn’t healthy at all. Before they got married, his mother had been a servant. They weren’t rich and lived in poverty.
Michael Faraday attended a local school until he was 13. Due to money, he received a very basic education. Think of yourselves as lucky that you get to go to school and learn all there is to know.
To earn some money for his family, he started working as a delivery boy for a bookshop. He worked super hard, and eventually he was promoted to become a trainee bookbinder. Wow, he must have worked hard.
How he Learnt about Science
As a bookbinder, you would never think that this young man would become interested in science, especially as he was very poor and hadn’t had a very good education. But he did, and it was all thanks to his work at the bookshop.
Instead of just binding books, Michael Faraday would read them from cover to cover as he wanted to learn more about the world around him.
He started reading more and more about science and eventually found two favorite books which were the Encyclopedia Britannica and Conversations on Chemistry.
He read them over and over again, learning more and more as he went along.
He became so interested in science that he used some of his money, which was very little, to buy some apparatus and chemicals as he wanted to check that what he was reading was true.
He heard that a very famous scientist John Tatum was going to be giving some lectures on natural philosophy (physics) and he really, really wanted to go.
He unfortunately couldn’t afford the shilling that was needed to get his spot. Luckily his brother was very impressed with Michael, and gave him the shilling to go!
More Interesting Experiments
Michael Faraday was given a great opportunity to attend lectures by the world famous Sir Humphrey Davy, which made him even more interested in science.
He started creating more difficult experiments in his lab at the back of the bookshop. He built an electric battery using copper coins and zinc discs separated by moist, salty paper.
He used his batter to get rid of chemicals such as magnesium sulfate.
Sir Humphrey Davy
Sir Humphrey Davy was one of Michael Faraday’s heroes, and he had an unfortunate accident in his lab. He asked Michael to come and work for him writing notes for a couple of days a week.
This was like a dream come true for him!
But it got even better. He was made chemical assistant at the Royal Institute for one of the most well-known scientists in the world. He was one happy man!
As the years went by, so he got promoted, and eventually landed up being a professor.
Most Interesting Discoveries
Michael Faraday invented a lot, but here are some of his most important inventions that made a big difference to the world.
1821: Discovery of Electromagnetic Rotation
This would eventually become the electric motor.
1823: Gas Liquefaction and Refrigeration
He showed that ammonia could be liquefied under pressure, and then evaporate to cause cooling. He showed that mechanical pumps could change a gas at room temperature into a liquid.
This could then be evaporated, cooling its surroundings. The gas could then be collected and compressed in a pump to liquid again. This led to refrigerators as we know them today.
1825: Discovery of Benzene
This is one of the most important substances in chemistry as it can make new materials and also helps to understand chemical bonding. He discovered this in an oily deposit left behind from producing gas for lighting.
1831: Discovery of Electromagnetic Induction
This was a very important discovery for the future of science and technology. He discovered that a varying magnetic field causes electricity to flow in an electric circuit.
Moving a magnet causes a current to flow. The stronger the magnet is, the bigger the current is. Pushing a bar magnet into coil of wire can create a larger current.
People had only been able to produce electric currents with batteries, but now Faraday had shown that movement could be turned into electricity. Awesome! The power we have in our homes today is based on this discovery. How cool is that?
1845: Discovery of Faraday Effect – a magneto-optical effect
This showed that light is an electromagnetic wave. He discovered that a magnetic field causes the plane of light polarization, or the division of light, to rotate.
1845: Discovery of Diamagnetism as a Property of all Matter
Faraday discovered that all substances are diamagnetic, some weak and some are stronger
Diamagnetism competes against the direction of a magnetic field. For example if you hold the north pole of a magnet near a strongly diamagnetic substance, this gets pushed away by the magnet.
This can be used to make things to float in the air.
Fun Facts about Michael Faraday
He invented the toy balloon
He got Albert Einstein his first job…wow!
Michael Faraday had been offered to be buried at Westminster Abbey with all the important kings and queens, but he decided against that.
There is a plaque at Westminster Abbey that is dedicated to him and is placed beneath the grave of Sir Isaac Newton.
Michael Faraday was certainly an interesting man. If you have a project to complete, you will wow everyone with your amazing knowledge.