Michael Faraday Biography

Michael Faraday (22 September 1791 – 25 August 1867) – 25 August 1867. Scientist, Chemist and English Physicist, considered one of the brightest scientists of the nineteenth century, for his great chemical discoveries, as well as for his great contributions to the study and understanding of electromagnetism and electrochemistry.

Early years

He was born in south London to a very poor family on 22 September 1791. His upbringing was rather rudimentary, he learned barely to read, write and count. From an early age he had to work, like his brothers, in order to collaborate with the family economy, due to the precarious health of his father, who was a blacksmith, but who did not always have work.

At the age of fourteen, he was apprenticed to a bookseller and bookbinder. In the workshop, Faraday had the opportunity to read some of the books that had been brought for restoration.

According to some historians, the article on electricity, contained by the Encyclopedia Britannica stole its attention, fascining it. Following the example of what was read, Faraday built a rudimentary electrostatic generator, using some bottles and pieces of wood. At that time, he was also able to produce a voltaic stack, doing some experiments with it.

He entered the Royal Institution

In 1812, Faraday’s life changed forever, when he managed to attend four lectures, given by chemist Sir Humphry Davy at the Royal Institution in London. Michael Faraday took notes on all the topics covered. Determined to begin in the life of Science, he sent Davy a bound copy of the notes taken during his exhibitions, along with a letter requesting him to accept him as an assistant.

However, there were no free places for Faraday. However, Davy did not forget, and a year later, he called him to take up the position of laboratory assistant. Some historians have pointed out that one of the greatest discoveries that Sir Humphry Davy could make was precisely Michael Faraday.

In 1814, he accompanied Davy and his wife on an 18-month tour of Europe, in which they toured France, Switzerland, Italy and Belgium, countries where they met and shared with important scientists. They returned in 1815 to London, where he continued his work as a Laboratory assistant at the Royal Institution.

Chemical discoveries

His beginnings in the scientific world were in Chemistry, where he made important contributions. In 1820, he discovered new compounds, originating from Carbon and Chlorine, such as Ethylene. He also developed research on steel alloys, laying the foundations for scientific metallurgy. In 1825, he managed to isolate and discover the benzene. He was also the first to achieve the liquefaction of a permanent gas.

He also brought great ideas to the intellectual dynamics of the Royal Institution. In 1826, he founded “Friday Night” and “Christmas Conferences,” spaces that remain to this day as scenarios for sharing the great finds of the scientific world, and where he himself several times attended to reveal his discoveries, winning fame as a great exhibitor.

Electromagnetism and Electrochemistry

However, his greatest contributions were in the field of Electricity and Magnetism. In 1821 he published his conclusions on electromagnetic rotation, the principles of which are the scientific basis of the electric motor. A decade later, in 1831, Michael Faraday discovered the principle of electromagnetic induction, through which mechanisms such as the generator and electrical transformer work.

Faraday had managed to get electricity to begin to be seen as a practically usable force, ushering in a new technological age. Words such as “ions,” “cathode” or “electrode” are part of his legacy in the world of scientific knowledge of Electricity. Between 1836 and 1865 he served as scientific adviser to Trinity House, and from 1830 to 1851 as professor of chemistry at the Royal Military Academy in Woolwich.

Late years

In 1855, his mind began to weaken, which diminished his experimental work. At that time he was dedicated to finding an electrical effect that could be used in lifting very heavy weights, believing that gravity, as magnetic force, could finally transform into another force, surely electric. However, the Royal Institution refused to publish it.

In consideration of his great contributions, Queen Victoria offered her home at Hampton Court as well as the title of Knight which unlike the house she rejected, arguing that he would forever be Lord Faraday. He died on 25 August 1867, in the house that the Queen had ceded to him for his rest. His body was buried in London, in Highgate Cemetery. In her honor, she was christened a unit of electrical capacity.


Michael Faraday changed the reality of physics forever, opening the way to a new era of technology, making Electricity no longer a mere curiosity, to become a usable force in industry and daily life. His scientific contributions in both Chemistry and the physical sciences make him considered one of the most important and influential scientists in history.

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Michael Faraday Biography
Source: curiosities  
July 27, 2019

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