Michael Faraday Facts



  • Michael Faraday (1791-1867) was one of the greatest scientists of the 19th century.
  • Faraday was the son of a poor blacksmith, born in the village of Newington in Surrey, England.
  • He started work as an apprentice bookbinder but became an assistant to the great scientist Humphry Davy after taking brilliant notes at one of Davy’s lectures.
  • Faraday was said to be Davy’s greatest discovery.
  • Until 1830 Faraday was mainly a chemist. In 1825 he discovered the important chemical benzene.
  • Faraday drew huge crowds to his brilliant and entertaining Christmas lectures on science at the Royal Institution in London. The Royal Institution Christmas lectures continue to be a popular tradition today.
  • In 1821 Faraday showed that the magnetism created by an electric current would make a magnet move and so made a very simple version of an electric motor.
  • In 1831 Faraday showed that when a magnet moves close to an electric wire, it creates, or induces, an electric current in the wire. This was discovered at the same time by Joseph Henry in the USA.
  • Using his discovery of electric induction, Faraday made the first dynamo to generate electricity and so opened the way to the modern age of electricity.
  • In the 1840s Faraday suggested the idea of lines of magnetic force and electromagnetic fields. These ideas, which were later developed by James Clerk Maxwell, underpin much of modern science.
  • Faraday was probably the greatest scientific experimenter of all time.
  • Faraday’s disc generator. An electromotive force (emf) is produced in a copper disc when it is spun in the magnetic field.