The Correspondence of Michael Faraday: 1855-1860

IET, 1991 - 893 páginas

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 illnesses, are reflected in his correspondence. This volume, in which just over 70% of the 841 letters are previously unpublished, covers the latter half of the 1850s and most of 1860. Topics include: Faraday’s work on regelation, the transmission of light through gold and his attempts to bring gravity into his general scheme of forces; the offer by Queen Victoria, and his acceptance, of a Grace and Favour House at Hampton Court; his advice to Trinity House, the Board of Trade and the Royal Commission on Lighthouses; his investigation of the deterioration of the stonework of the relatively new Houses of Parliament; the conservation issues surrounding the National Gallery's pictures; and his appointment by Emperor Napoleon III to be a Commander of the Legion of Honour.

Major correspondents included the Astronomer Royal G.B. Airy, the new Secretary of Trinity House P.H. Berthon, the Birmingham glassmaker J.T. Chance, the French chemist and politician J.B.A. Dumas, the Assistant Secretary of the Board of Trade T.H. Farrer, the German mathematician Julius Plücker, the Cambridge trained mathematical natural philosophers James Clerk Maxwell, George Gabriel Stokes and William Thomson, Faraday's colleague at the Royal Institution John Tyndall and the Swiss chemist Christian Schoenbein whose daughter died while in London.


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The Correspondence
Previous Publication of Letters

Términos y frases comunes

Acerca del autor (1991)

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 Professor of the History of Science at the Royal Institution, President of the British Society for the History of Science and past President of the Newcomen Society. He has written on nineteenth century physics and chemistry in their various contexts and with Geoffrey Cantor and David Gooding wrote the biography Michael Faraday (Macmillan/Humanities Press). He has also edited a collection of essays on the history of the Royal Institution The Common Purposes of Life (Ashgate).Frank James lives in Middlesex and is married with three children.

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