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Michael Faraday was an English physicist and chemist who contributed to the understanding of electromagnetism, discovered Benzene, and built the first electric motor and generator. As a self-taught scientist, Faraday is one of the most influential thinkers in history.
See the fact file below for more information on the Michael Faraday or alternatively, you can download our 24-page Michael Faraday worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
EARLY LIFE AND FAMILY
- Born on the 22nd of September, 1971 in a country village in Newington, Surrey in London, Michael Faraday was the third of four children from a poverty-stricken family.
- His father, James Faraday, was a blacksmith from England who suffered poor health, and his mother, Margaret Hastwell, a servant before marriage.
- He came from a family of Sandemanians, a small Christian sector, which had a great influence on him and affected his philosophies in life.
- Due to poverty, Faraday’s education was only limited to reading, writing, and mathematics. He stopped attending school at the age of 13.
- A year after, he began to work as a delivery boy for a bookshop owned by George Riebau. He got promoted and worked as an apprentice bookbinder for seven years. This apprenticeship gave him the opportunity to read soon-to-be binded books.
- He was particularly fascinated by science, and these two books got his attention: (1) The Encyclopedia Britannica, third edition – articles about electricity, and (2) Conversations on Chemistry by Jane Marcet.
- On June 12, 1821, he married Sarah Barnard. They had no children.
- They lived in the comfortable suite Sir Humphry Davy used to live in, at the Royal Institution for 46 years, where Faraday started his research on electricity and magnetism.
- He met his wife through their families at the Sandemanian church.
- As soon as his apprenticeship ended in 1812, he began going to lectures at the Royal Institution, attending talks conducted by Sir Humphry Davy, one of the most famous scientists in the world.
- William Dance, an English pianist and violinist, used to visit the bookshop. He provided Faraday with tickets for these lectures.
- Faraday attended four lectures about chemistry, watching how Davy performed experiments while taking down notes. As a tribute, he sent Davy his 300-page handwritten book, containing all his lectures plus some additional notes.
- In 1813, Sir Davy got into an accident with Nitrogen Trichloride, damaging his eyesight and his ability to write. His laboratory assistant, John Payne, got fired for misconduct, and Davy sent a message to Faraday asking him if he would like to work as his assistant.
- On March 1, 1813, at the age of 21, Faraday became Davy’s chemical assistant at the Royal Institution of Great Britain. Aside from the good pay, he was also given a room in the attic of the Royal Institution.
- As a chemical assistant, he was entrusted to prepare the instruments used for experiments and lectures, and even did procedures involving Nitrogen Trichloride samples. Unfortunately, he and Davy were injured in an explosion of this substance.
- Seven months later, Davy took him as his secretary on an 18-month European tour, which in some ways, was like a university education. This gave Faraday the opportunity to meet other elite scientists, such as Andre-Marie Ampere in Paris and Alessandro Volta in Milan.
- Although this tour fueled his interest in chemistry, Davy’s wife, Jane Apreece, treated him miserably because he came from a lower class family.
- After their excursion, his contract was renewed by the Royal Institution, thus, increasing his salary.
- At 24, he gave his first lecture about the properties of matter, to the City Philosophical Society. This same year, 1816, his first scholarly paper about his analysis of Calcium Hydroxide, got published in the Quarterly Journal of Science.
AS A CHEMIST
- In 1820, he produced the first known compounds of Carbon and Chlorine: C2Cl6 (Hexachloroethane) and C2Cl4 (Tetrachloroethane).
- In 1823, he provided hard evidence on Dalton’s belief that all gases could be liquefied under low temperature and/or high pressures. Faraday used high pressures to produce the first ever liquid samples of Chlorine and Ammonia.
- Commercial refrigeration existed because of having Ammonia liquefied under pressure then evaporated to cause cooling. He had proven that a gas at room temperature could turn into liquid, given the use of mechanical pumps.
- In 1825, Faraday discovered Benzene, C6H6, in the oily residue from producing gas for lighting in London.
- He also determined the actions of Sulfuric Acid on Naphthalene, and the decomposition of Hydrocarbons by expansion.
- In 1834, he proposed the laws of electrolysis which are significant to the understanding of batteries and electrode reactions.
AS A PHYSICIST
- In 1821, he discovered the physics behind electromagnetic rotation. Electricity flows through the wires, with cups filled with Mercury.
- Ten years later, Faraday found out the difference in magnetic fields caused current flow in an electric circuit; thus, the discovery of electromagnetic induction. Faraday’s laws of electromagnetic induction gives the behavior of a magnetic field in an electric circuit to produce an electromotive force (emf).
- That same year, in 1831, he built the first electric generator, known as the Faraday disk.
- In 1836, he conducted an ice pail experiment and noticed that when any electric conductor becomes charged, the rest of the extra charge remains outside of the conductor. This discovery was also used to offer protection to people who are sensitive to electrical or electrochemical experiments, and can also interrupt signals for mobile communications. Therefore, the invention of the Faraday Cage.
- In 1845, he stated that given a two-dimensional surface, vibrations of light waves rotate because of the magnetic field. This optical illusion is known as the Faraday effect.
- In the same year, he also discovered diamagnetism, a property of matter which opposes the direction of the magnetic field.
- In 1821, the same year he married his wife, Faraday got promoted to be the Superintendent of House and Laboratory of the Royal Institution.
- Three years later, he was elected a member of the Royal Society, a recognition that he had become a renowned scientist.
- In 1825, he became the Director of the Royal Institution’s Laboratory, at the age of 33.
- In June 1832, he was granted an honorary Doctor of Civil Law degree by the University of Oxford. He was also elected a Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
- In 1833, Faraday became the first Fullerian Professor of Chemistry at the Royal Institution of Great Britain.
- After five years, he was chosen to be part of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.
- In 1848 and 1858, Faraday was offered the presidency of the Royal Society, but rejected it twice.
- He was elected as an associated member to the Royal Institute of the Netherlands in 1849. Two years later, he got his foreign membership in the same organization which changed its name to Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences.
- Faraday was awarded a grace and favour residential property in Hampton Court in Middlesex, by the Prince Consort.
- He died at the age of 75, on August 25, 1867, at his house at Hampton Court. He was offered a burial in Westminster Abbey, together with Britain’s kings, queens, and scientists, but turned down the offer. His grave, beside his wife, can be found in London’s Highgate Cemetery.
- Streets named for Faraday can be found in many British cities, as well as in France (Paris), Germany, Canada, and United States.
- In 2002, he ranked number 22 in the British Broadcasting Corporation’s (BBC) list of the 100 Greatest Britons.
- Faraday Institute for Science and Religion, created in 2006, was built in order to carry out academic research in the two given fields.
Michael Faraday Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about Michael Faraday across 24 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Michael Faraday worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about Michael Faraday who was an English physicist and chemist who contributed to the understanding of electromagnetism, discovered Benzene, and built the first electric motor and generator. As a self-taught scientist, Faraday is one of the most influential thinkers in history.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Michael Faraday Facts
- Faraday Who?
- Fact Checkpoint
- Timeline of Discoveries
- Chemistry or Physics?
- First Electric Motor
- EMF in Motion
- Laws of Electrolysis
- Faraday’s Cage
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