Michael Faraday [1791 – 1867] was a self-taught physicist and chemist, and a hero to both Thomas Edison and Albert Einstein. Faraday is best known for his discoveries of the laws of electrolysis, his giant invention of the electric motor, and electromagnetic induction [the production of a voltage across a conductor when it is exposed to a varying magnetic field-the very foundation for how motors and transformers work.]
Faraday was born on the outskirts of London, in a family of modest means. He received little formal education and was largely self-taught. His first job was an apprenticed bookbinder where he had opportunity to read many books; becoming enamored with chemistry- an interest he would share with Edison. At age twenty, he became an assistant to and secretary to the British scientist Sir Humphrey Davey, a giant in science and chemistry. Later, after a somewhat stormy relationship with Davey, he would become his own force in the field of science. Faraday ultimately became the first and foremost Fullerian Professor of Chemistry at the Royal Institution of Great Britain, a lifetime position.
Like Edison, Faraday was a brilliant experimentalist; and also like Edison, was limited in his application of higher math knowledge. Both men probably had no more than limited algebra and some trigonometry skills picked up along the years. When Edison was a budding telegrapher in his teens, he is said to have read Faraday’s major work, “Experimental Researches in Electricity”, which many later scientists used to extend his fundamental work.
Faraday gave memorable public lectures demonstrating his discoveries and popularizing his electrical technology. He is enshrined in the pantheon of electric engineering with the unit of capacitance…the “Farad”, named in his honor.
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Thomas Edison said … “The man who doesn’t make up his mind to cultivate the habit of thinking misses the greatest pleasure in life.
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