Scientist Michael Faraday is often thought of as being the Godfather of modern electricity. He made important studies in the field of electromagnetism and electrolysis. It’s fair to say the world would be a much more primordial place had it not been for the impact and influence of Faraday and his work. His work led him to the discovery of the electromagnetic field that exists in physics, a key scientific breakthrough.
Faraday is one of those people you probably studied briefly in high school physics class, but, you may not remember the name. In spite of this, he remains one of the most important and influential figures in the world of science, and his impact can be felt to this day. These are some of the key things you never knew about Michael Faraday.
He never had a formal education
Faraday’s accomplishments are even more impressive because he never actually received a formal education. Everything he knew was learned and self-taught through books and research. Born into a working-class family from London, he received the most basic education in reading, writing, and arithmetic. He earned an apprenticeship at a London bookbinder at the age of 14, which gave him access to plenty of books, and he started to read Conversations In Chemistry.
He invented the first electric motor
Other scientists at this time were conducting experiments and trying out all manner of new things. There was a lot they didn’t know at this stage, so much of the process was trial and error. Faraday was another who took to experimenting, and set out to show there was a way to harness the force produced by an electrical current. To achieve this, he built a device that used liquid mercury and a magnet, and a wire that carried current. This rudimentary device became the first ever electric motor.
He didn’t stop there
Buoyed by the success of his breakthrough, Faraday challenged himself to make more sensible apparatus. Through his experiment with the motor, he discovered the principle of electromagnetic induction. This became the basis for which he would create the first ever electric generator as well. In addition to this, he also used a magnet, paper, and iron shavings to illustrate the pull of magnetic force – an experiment you might remember doing in school.
He made it onto the £20 note
The hallmark of cool these days is being asked to guest star in The Simpsons, but, back then, it was making it onto a banknote. This is a feat Faraday achieved posthumously, when his portrait was added to the British £20 note in 1991. It was done to honor his role in helping the advancement of British science. The note was withdrawn around a decade later, but this helped increase awareness in Faraday and his work.
Next time you use electricity, or turn on your car, remember that this links to Michael Faraday. Without the work he put in, you might not be in a position to use the things you love. Electricity has become arguably the single most important invention in the science world, and think about how much we use it, even to this day!