THE LIFE AND WORKS OF MICHEAL FARADAY
Life and educational background
Michael Faraday is world acclaimed as one of the greatest names in the history of Electronics and Physics at large. Born to a financially disadvantaged family on 22nd September 1791 in Newington Butts, United Kingdom, Michael Faraday, through his many struggles, devoted his life to the study and research into the then little known phenomenon of electromagnetism. His research led him to the groundbreaking invention of a wide variety of electro-magnetic devices, most of which are still used to date. Due to his astounding work he came to be known as the Father of Magnetism, among many other titles. His work laid groundwork for very many other scientific breakthroughs, and his devotion to physics inspired many a scientist to devote their full efforts toward scientific research. Most notably, The Albert Einstein kept a picture of Michael Faraday on his wall to motivate him and spur him on.
Despite being born to a very poor family, faraday didn’t let his predicament stand in between him and education.Michael Faraday educated himself, and at the age of 14, he was taken under the wing of a local bookseller, who gave him access to a wide variety of Scientific Manuscripts which made him develop a fervent interest in Science, especially in electricity. At age 20, at the end his apprenticeship with said bookseller, Faraday attended lectures by a renown Chemist called Humphrey Davy, and astounded him with his potential enough that when Davy had an accident and lost his sight, he hired Faraday as an assistant, which exposed Faraday to so much knowledge and stimulating ideas, and enabled him to meet and mingle with the Scientific Elites of the time.
Faraday’s first recorded experiment was a voltaic pile that he created using a bunch of coins which he stacked with seven sheets of zinc, separated by six pieces of paper soaked in salt water. Later on, in 1821, after the Danish scientist Hans Christian Orsted discovered electromagnetism but failed to design an electric motor, Faraday invented what he called “electromagnetic rotation”. Unbeknownst to him, he had just invented the first Homopoplar Motor. The circular motion of the motor was caused by the circular magnetic force around a wire carrying current. In his excitement, however, he published his work without acknowledging the work with Davy and all the other colleagues, and this led to his reassignment to other fields of science like Chemistry, and hence temporarily hindered his research into electromagnetism.
He experimented to check for a relationship between the flow of current in a wire and a magnetic field, and devoted seven of his years to that research, and research into a relationship between light and magnetism, all the whilst, publishing work about his findings and keeping in touch with other members of the scientific community that he had met while still working for Davy. Two years after the death of Davy, however, Faraday begun on some experiments that ultimately lead to the discovery of electromagnetic induction on 28th October 1831.He found that by wrapping two insulated coils of wire around an iron ring and passing a current through one coil, a momentary current was inducted into the other coil. He referred to this phenomenon as Mutual Induction. These discoveries lead to the invention of the dynamo, which is the predecessor of all modern power generators. Later on, a mathematician known as James Clark Maxwell used Faradays research to create a mathematical model, which came to be known as Faradays Law, and later became one of Maxwell’s equations.
Faraday did extensive research into static electricity, and later came up with the famous Faraday’s ice pail experiment, to demonstrate that charge resides on the outside of a charged body, and exterior charge had no influence on anything enclosed inside. He devised the Faraday’s cage to prove his theory of electrostatic shielding, and, after enduring so much ridicule from the scientific society for his theory, he performed one of the most famously dangerous experiments ever attempted. He created a hollow metal cube, and entered into it, with the most sensitive gold leaf electroscopes he could get, and then he had the cube charged with static electricity, so much that it was producing deadly sparks, but on the inside, he noticed that none of the GLE’s was deflecting at all, showing total absence of charge on the inside of a charged body.
Faraday also conducted experiments in the field of Chemistry, most notably discovering Benzene, and creating the laws of Electrolysis. He is also credited for inventing the Bunsen burner. He also invented the rubber balloon, during one of his experiments with gases.
Faraday’s inventions in today’s life
Faraday’s research led to the invention of a variety of devices and machines, most notably the dynamo, the dc motor, generator and electrical shielding. Many of these devices are still in use to date, though they have undergone various upgrades so as to improve on their effectiveness.
The dynamo, for example, was originally invented as a dc generator. Over the years, his idea has been modified to create generators that produce vast amounts of power. The dynamo was further revolutionalised into the a.c generator, by introducing split ring commutators, and these a.c dynamos were increased in size, and developed into electrical generators run by turbines in electrical dams, and these “huge dynamos” generate power for entire countries, whereas Faraday’s dynamo could power a bulb at most.
The electric motor, invented by Faraday has been modified and made more powerful, by increasing the number of wires in the coils, and inserting the coil into ring magnets, for maximum magnetic linking. This has led to the creation of more powerful motors like the rotors of a helicopter, and also, motors have been used extensively in the robotics industry, as servos for the robotic limbs. This, in turn led to increased automation of production in factories.
Faraday’s research into mutual induction led to the invention of the transformer. This device is used to increase or decrease the voltage of an electric current. Faraday’s transformer was modified into larger transformers, which then led to the rapid development of the electricity transmission industry, where by electricity could be transmitted to remote areas where it wasn’t before, and hence, the new availability of power hailed the growth of the electronic age.
In conclusion, Michael Faraday made great contributions to Electronics history, most notably the dynamo and transformer, and though these machines are still being used, to some extent, in their original forms, they have had to undergo so many modifications to become the maximally effective machines that we enjoy to use today.
The Encyclopedia Britanicca