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Michael Faraday: biography of this British physicist

Michael Faraday: biography of this British physicist

August 10, 2022

Nowadays much of the modern world works mainly thanks to the use of electricity. The use of this type of energy is therefore not exactly unknown to us.

But in order to use lamps, computers, life support equipment or rechargeable batteries, a large number of discoveries had to be made first. And while some of which date from before Christ, mostly how to generate and apply electricity has been something that has been investigated and discovered during the Modern Age.

Michael Faraday was one of the great pioneering personalities who made it possible to develop studies on electricity and electromagnetism. He was the main discoverer of electromagnetic induction and electrolysis, whose practical application has 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 .


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The life of Michael Faraday: a brief biography

The birth of Michael Faraday occurred on September 22, 1791, in the village of Newington Butt (which today is not a village but one of the neighborhoods of London) of the English region of Surrey. It was the third of four brothers, children of the stablesmith James Faraday and Margaret Hastwell.

The Faraday family, working class and peasant, had very few resources and could only offer their children a basic education. Initially he would go to school, but later his family decided to take him out of it and make him study at home.


It was also common for minors to have to contribute financially to support the family, something that caused Michael Faraday to deliver newspapers. Also largely because of family beliefs a great religious conviction was born in him, and he became part of the Sandemanian church . This faith would be a source of peace and strength for the scientist throughout his life.

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Youth and first jobs

In 1805, at the age of fourteen, the young Faraday began a period of apprenticeship in the office of bookbinder with a bookseller for whom he had previously run several errands, George Riebau. During this period, which would last seven years, his work allowed him to have a deep contact with a large number of literary works. He also began to cultivate a predilection for electrical phenomena, after reading various articles and works of chemistry and electricity.


Also as he was growing, he was also doing his scientific interest (along with his disenchantment with the commercial world) and thanks to his brother could start to attend and be part of the Philosophical Society of the city, governed by John Tatum.

His contact with this group allowed him to begin to know the work of the chemist Humphry Davy, who was going to make a series of lectures in the place. One of the group members got him tickets, so managed to attend the lectures offered by the chemist at the Royal Institution . In them he took a lot of notes to the point of making a small script. Faraday decided to send a copy to Davy and ask him to work as his assistant in order to be able to devote himself to science.

Start of your learning in science

Humphrey Davy received the request and, since there was an assistant position vacant and also had a minor accident that had left him temporarily blind, he accepted Faraday first as his secretary. When his previous assistant had to be fired he also offered the position to Michael Faraday, who became his assistant in 1813.

Even though the chemist's wife always expressed deep contempt and treated him like a servant, Humphry would become his protector and teacher and together with him Faraday was able to travel (despite the conflict of the time), work and investigate aspects such as the composition of the diamond or witness the discovery of benzene.

He would also establish numerous contacts and learn fundamentally about chemistry. In this aspect he came to excel, something that made few after returning from these trips Faraday could begin to provide training in this regard. In 1815 he published Analysis of Caustic Lime of Tuscany, his first work, in addition to numerous articles.

Great discoveries

Later, he was asked to write opinion pieces about the scientific contributions of several authors, something that would make him recreate his experiments and meet with the original authors.

It is in this context that Faraday begins to make important discoveries: in 1821 he discovered the way to apply existing knowledge regarding 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 make publications on the subject of electricity and magnetism.

In 1824 he was made a member of the Royal Society, and a year later he was appointed director of the Royal Society laboratory that his mentor was carrying at the time he met him. He started giving talks and lectures both Christmas (the Royal Institution Christmas Lectures) and weekly (the Friday Evening Discourses).

In 1831 he made another of his great discoveries, electromagnetic induction. During the year 1832 he discovered, or rather empirically demonstrated the existence of electrolysis . Also at that time, specifically in 1836, he developed the Faraday cage in order to generate an electromagnetically protected area to prevent external electricity from reaching its interior. He was awarded different prizes and honors, including some that were rejected such as the presidency of the Royal Society or the knighthood.

Another his investigations, this time linked to the study of light power , gave rise to the well-known Faraday effect. This effect proposes that the action of a magnetic field can affect the polarization of light, something that corresponded to his idea that light, electricity and magnetism are related.

Last years and death

The decade of 1860 would be the one that would begin to mark the decline of this great author. Already in 1839 he had suffered problems and a nervous breakdown, and little by little was beginning to manifest symptoms at the neuropsychiatric level . He died at his home in Hampton Court at age 75, on August 25, 1867.

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

Bibliographic references:

  • Baggott, J. (1991). ¬ęThe myth of Michael Faraday: Michael Faraday was not just one of Britain's greatest experimenters. A closer look at the man and his work reveals that he was also a clever theoretician. " New Scientist

Michael Faraday Biography in Hindi | Explain Electromagnetic Induction | michael faraday documentary (August 2022).


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