The Correspondence of Michael Faraday, Volume 2: 1832-1840

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Institution of Engineering and Technology, 1993 - Biography & Autobiography - 864 pages
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The Correspondence of Michael Faraday Michael Faraday (1791-1867) was one of the most important men of science in nineteenth century Britain. His discoveries of electro-magnetic rotations (1821) and electro-magnetic induction (1831) laid the foundations of the modern electrical industry. His discovery of the magneto-optical effect and diamagnetism (1845) led him to formulate the field theory of electro-magnetism, which forms one of the cornerstones of modern physics. These and a whole host of other fundamental discoveries in physics and chemistry, together with his lecturing at the Royal Institution, his work for the state (including Trinity House), his religious beliefs and his lack of mathematical ability, make Faraday one of the most fascinating scientific figures ever. All these aspects of his life and work and others, such as his health, are reflected in his letters which, in this final volume, cover Faraday's life to his death in August 1867. Also published here are letters that could not be dated and letters that should have been included in volumes one to five but which had not been located when those volumes were published. In total just over 80% of the letters in this volume are previously unpublished. The dominant topic of the 1860s (covered in nearly 40% of the letters) is Faraday's involvement with the lighthouse service relating in particular to his advice to Trinity House and the Board of Trade on matters such as electric light and the controversial issue of fog signals. Also detailed is the complex process by which his various posts were transferred to John Tyndall. Similar issues existed with Faraday's gradual withdrawal from his duties at the Royal Institution, including the misguided attempt to make him President. And, of course, running through many of the letters are comments on his declining health and impending death. Major correspondents include the Astronomer Royal G.B. Airy, the Secretary of Trinity House P.H. Berthon, the Birmingham glassmaker J.T. Chance, the Assistant Secretary of the Board of Trade T.H. Farrer, the German mathematician Julius Plü cker, the Cambridge trained mathematical natural philosophers James Clerk Maxwell and William Thomson, Faraday's colleagues at the Royal Institution Henry Bence Jones, John Tyndall and Benjamin Vincent, the Swiss chemist Christian Schoenbein and the astronomer James South.

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About the author (1993)

Michael Faraday, a British physicist and chemist, was one of the greatest experimentalists of the nineteenth century. The son of a blacksmith, Faraday received a minimal education, which did not include much training in mathematics. Nevertheless, in 1812 his innate intelligence attracted the attention of Sir Humphry Davy at the Royal Institution. Davy hired Faraday as a laboratory assistant in the institution; Faraday remained until his retirement in 1862. Here, he made his contributions to the study of electricity by formulating the laws of electrolysis in 1834. Faraday also discovered that the circular lines of magnetic force produced by the flow of current through a wire deflect a nearby compass needle. By demonstrating this conversion of electrical energy into motive force, Faraday identified the basic principles governing the application of the electric motor. Simultaneously with Joseph Henry, Faraday discovered electromagnetic induction and then successfully built the first electric generator based on a suggestion from Scottish mathematician and physicist Lord William Thomson Kelvin. After a series of experiments using polarized light, Faraday proposed an electromagnetic theory of light. This theory was later developed by James Clerk Maxwell and was fundamental to the later development of physics. Faraday was widely known as a popularizer of science, regularly lecturing to lay audiences from 1825 to 1862. Faraday was an extremely modest person. For example, he declined honors bestowed in recognition of his accomplishments, such as a knighthood and the presidency of the Royal Society.

Frank A.J.L. James is Lecturer in History of Science at the Royal Institution Centre for the History of Science and Technology. He has written on physics and chemistry in the nineteenth century and has previously edited the Diary of Herbert McLeod, published by Mansell. With Geoffrey Cantor and David Gooding he has written the biography Faraday, published by Macmillan.Frank James lives in London and is married with three children.