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Michael Faraday


FARADAY, MICHAEL (1i91-1867), English chemist and physicist, was born at Newington, Surrey, on Sept. 22, 1791. His parents had migrated from Yorkshire to London, where his father worked' as a blacksmith. Faraday himself was apprenticed to a bookbinder. He continued to work as a journeyman book binder till March 1813, when he was appointed assistant in the laboratory of the Royal Institution of Great Britain on the recommendation of Sir Humphry Davy, whom he accompanied on a tour through France, Italy and Switzerland from Oct. 1813 to April 1815. He was appointed director of the laboratory in 1825; and in 1833 he was appointed Fullerian professor of chemis try in the institution for life, without the obligation to deliver lectures. He died at Hampton Court on Aug. 25, 1867.

The parents of Faraday belonged to the very small and isolated Christian sect which is commonly called after Robert Sandeman. Faraday himself attended the meetings from childhood; and at the age of 3o he made public profession of his faith.

Faraday's earliest chemical work was in the paths opened by Davy, to whom he acted as assistant. He made a special study of chlorine, and discovered two new chlorides of carbon. He also made the first rough experiments on the diffusion of gases, a phenomenon first pointed out by John Dalton (q.v.). He suc ceeded in liquefying several gases; he investigated the alloys of steel, and produced several new kinds of optical glass. A speci men of one of these heavy glasses afterwards became historically important as the substance in which Faraday detected the rotation of the plane of polarization of light when the glass was placed in a magnetic field, and also as the substance which was first repelled by the poles of the magnet. He also improved laboratory methods. See his work on Chemical Manipulation, and the articles LIQUEFACTION OF GASES.

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