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Faraday Follows in Franklin's Footsteps

Photograph of Faraday

Following in the footsteps of Ben Franklin and other early scientists, Michael Faraday studied the nature of electricity. Born on September 22, 1791, this famous English physicist and chemist is best remembered for his understanding of electromagnetism. Once Faraday discovered that electricity could be made by moving a magnet inside a wire coil, he was able to build the first electric motor. He later built the first generator and transformer. He introduced several words that we still use today to discuss electricity: ion, electrode, cathode, and anode.

Faraday is also remembered for his contributions to the study of chemistry. Most noteworthy was his discovery of benzene, a common carbon compound. Later in life, Faraday became Professor of Chemistry at the Royal Institution. He was a powerful speaker and his lectures were popular. Every year on Christmas Day, he presented his Faraday Lectures for Children which were crowded with interested listeners. To honor his accomplishments, a unit of electricity was named after him. The "farad" measures capacitance, an amount of electrical charge. Faraday lived his whole life in England, where he died on August 25, 1867.


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