Michael Faraday: Physics and Faith

Overview

Michael Faraday (1791-1867), the son of a blacksmith, described his education as "little more than the rudiments of reading, writing, and arithmetic at a common day-school." Yet from such basics, he became one of the most prolific and wide-ranging experimental scientists who ever lived. As a bookbinder's apprentice with a voracious appetite for learning, he read every book he got his hands on. In 1812 he attended a series of chemistry lectures by Sir Humphry Davy at London's prestigious Royal Institution. He took...

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Overview

Michael Faraday (1791-1867), the son of a blacksmith, described his education as "little more than the rudiments of reading, writing, and arithmetic at a common day-school." Yet from such basics, he became one of the most prolific and wide-ranging experimental scientists who ever lived. As a bookbinder's apprentice with a voracious appetite for learning, he read every book he got his hands on. In 1812 he attended a series of chemistry lectures by Sir Humphry Davy at London's prestigious Royal Institution. He took copious and careful notes, and, in the hopes of landing a scientific job, bound them and sent them to the lecturer. Davy was impressed enough to hire the 21-year-old as a laboratory assistant.

In his first decade at the Institution, Faraday discovered benzene, isobutylene, and two chlorides of carbon. But despite these and other accomplishments in chemistry, he is chiefly remembered for his work in physics. In 1831 he proved that magnetism could generate an electric current, thereby establishing the field of electromagnetism and leading to the invention of the dynamo. In addition to his extraordinary scientific activities, Faraday was a leader in his church, whose faith and wish to serve guided him throughout his career. An engaging public speaker, he gave popular lectures on scientific subjects, and helped found a tradition of scientific education for children and laypeople that continues to this day.

Oxford Portraits in Science is an ongoing series of scientific biographies for young adults. Written by top scholars and writers, each biography examines the personality of its subject as well as the thought process leading to his or her discoveries. These illustrated biographies combine accessible technical information with compelling personal stories to portray the scientists whose work has shaped our understanding of the natural world.

A biography of the nineteenth-century English scientist whose religious beliefs guided his exploration of electricity and magnetism.

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Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up-The significance of the work of this 19th-century British scientist is well thought out in this biography. Most noted for his invention of the electric transformer and the dynamo, Faraday is also credited with the electric motor. The son of a blacksmith, he spent his teen years as a bookbinder's apprentice but his love of science led him to the Royal Institution in London. Experiments with whale oil and gases produced from it led to the discovery of benzene, now used in many useful substances. He remained loyal to his Sandemanian church, a sect known for its strict moral principles. This book, while trying its best to personalize this scientist, does a better job of describing Faraday's work in the context of the times in which he lived. Mature readers will appreciate a beginning chapter about London in the late 1700s in which a science lecture was as well attended as an opera. The way in which scientific etiquette affected Faraday's progression of experiments is complex but fascinating. A sample lecture, document reproductions, and excerpts from letters will satisfy a need for primary-source material.-Vicki Reutter, Cazenovia High School, NY Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195117639
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 1/28/2001
  • Series: Oxford Portraits in Science Series
  • Pages: 128
  • Sales rank: 823,647
  • Age range: 13 years
  • Product dimensions: 9.10 (w) x 6.50 (h) x 0.50 (d)

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