Michael Faraday

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Michael Faraday was the third son of a London blacksmith. He became a self- taught scientist whose greatest discoveries concerned electricity. In 1831, Faraday proved that magnets can be used to produce an electric current. This discovery enabled him to build an electric generator. It was a forerunner of the giant dynamos that keep the modern world supplied with power. Faraday was born on September 22, 1791, in Newington, England. When he was five, his family moved to London, where he attended elementary school. Born to a poor family, Michael left school to work as an errand boy in a bookshop when he was about twelve years old. The bookseller liked him and offered to teach him to bind books. During the next seven years, Michael read all kinds of books while he cut and bound the pages. He became particularly interested in scientific books, especially ones about chemistry and the new science of electricity.

One of the customers was impressed by the young man’s interest. He gave Michael tickets to a series of lectures by a famous British scientist, Sir Humphry Davy, in 1812. The lectures convinced Faraday that his future lay in science. What he wanted most was to work for Davy. He had taken detailed notes on Davy’s lectures. Carefully he copied the notes, bound them into a booklet, and sent them to Sir Humphry. In the spring of 1813, Davy hired Faraday as a laboratory assistant.

That fall, Davy set out to visit some European scientists. He took Faraday along as his secretary. During the next year and a half, Faraday met some of the world’s famous scientists, which included Volta, Ampere, and Humboldt. When Davy and Faraday returned to London in 1815, he was no longer just a secretary; he now worked side by side with Sir Humphry.

Faraday, who became one of the greatest scientists of the 19th century, began his career as a chemist. As a professor of chemistry he was an excellent lecturer; Faraday used his oratory skills...
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