If you are a chemistry or physics enthusiast, odds are you’ve heard of Michael Faraday (1791-1867) before. Known for inventing the first electric motor and the first electric generator, Faraday greatly contributed to the electromagnetism field. Here are 10 captivating facts about Michael Faraday.
1. Accidentally Contributed to the Creation of Refrigerators
While experimenting with chloride hydrate inside a tube, Faraday noticed that a liquid started to form inside it. He broke the tube open, which resulted in a small explosion. He quickly understood what happened. He also realized the surrounding air was cold. With this, Faraday contributed to the creation of refrigerators as we know today!
2. Invented Balloons
Created in 1824, Faraday’s balloons were a simpler version of the ones we see today. The scientist pressed two sheets of rubber together and put hydrogen inside of them during his experiments. He noticed that the object had “ascending powers.”
3. Received a House from Prince Albert
In recognition of Faraday’s contribution to science, Prince Albert—Queen Victoria’s husband—gave the scientist an estate at Hampton Court in 1848. He lived at the estate until the day of his death, August 25, 1867.
4. He was Self-Taught
Although he received some essential education, Faraday’s knowledge of chemistry and physics was firstly gathered during his years working as a bookbinder! One of his favorite books to read during his free time was Jane Marcet’s Conversations in Chemistry.
5. Started Science Career as a Lab Assistant
In 1812, young Michael Faraday attended four of Sir Humphry Davy’s lectures about his scientific discoveries. During the presentations, Faraday wrote several details, and after compiling them into a 300-page book, he sent it to Davy! The famous scientist was so impressed that he decided to hire Faraday as a lab assistant.
6. Was an Anti-Pollution Activist
One negative side effect of Great Britain’s industrialization was the terrible smell of the River Thames. People disposed of their garbage and fecal matter into it (gross). As a man of science, Faraday had to say something about it and wrote an open letter to British authorities.
7. He Wasn’t Comfortable with Math
Due to his poor education during childhood, Faraday struggled with mathematics. This struggle caused him some professional issues since he couldn’t support some of his hypotheses with mathematical equations.
8. Suffered from Memory Loss
At just 48 years old, Faraday started to suffer from memory loss and symptoms such as unsteadiness and vertigo. This left him unable to work for three years.
9. Created Names for Concepts He Discovered
Faraday coined names such as ion, cathode, and anode to identify some of his discoveries.
10. There is a Replica of His Magnetic Laboratory in London
Faraday’s 1850s laboratory is replicated in the Royal Institution’s Faraday Museum, and it’s open to visitors.
Faraday was incredibly prolific in his work. Not only did he show us that you don’t have to be a math wiz to be an inventor, but that accidents can result in important technology—like the refrigerator!