blog post photo
On this day in 1791, Michael Faraday, whom Wired magazine once called “the Einstein of the 19th Century,” was born in England. Faraday grew up in a working class family and to quit  school in his teens to help support his family. While working as a bookbinder, he continued to study on his own, and an article in the Encyclopedia Britannica about electricity motivated him to begin doing his own experiments. Eventually, he wrangled a job as an assistant to chemistry researcher Humphry Davy at the Royal Institution.

While working there, Faraday followed up on the work of Danish scientist Hans Christian Oersted, who had discovered that electrical current would deflect a compass needle. Faraday theorized that magnets created force fields. In 1821, he suspended a wire above a magnet and passed a current through the wire, whose bottom end hung in a dish of conductive mercury. The wire then rotated around the magnet, following lines of magnetic force. Faraday had created the world’s first electric motor

Faraday’s motor created a sensation, but it also aroused the ire of Davy, his employer, who accused Faraday of stealing the idea from him. The brouhaha grew so heated that Faraday actually switched scientific fields, and became a chemistry researcher. He was pretty good at that, too–in 1825, he discovered benzene

After Davy’s death in 1829, Faraday went back to electromagnetic research. He went on to make numerous discoveries that integrated magnetism, chemistry, electricity and light, and formed the basis for the field theory of electromagnetism, one of the cornerstones of modern physics. In particular, Faraday is known for discovering the Faraday Effect, in which a magnetic field rotates polarized light

And with that, here are the science and technology stories of the day.

Twitter attacked by computer worm. 
Wow, is nothing sacred?

Desirable daisies lure male flies with offer of sex. Okay, the actual article isn’t quite as salacious as the headline sounds, but it’s still interesting reading, trust us.

Thinking of nothing can be very tiring. As it turns out, trying to clear your mind of thoughts requires energy, too. So you might as well go ahead and compile your grocery list in your head while you’re meditating in yoga class.

Neanderthals more advanced than previously thought. In light of this, when they say that buying insurance is so easy that even a caveman can do it, it may not actually be that easy after all.

Feds can’t find any evidence that a miles-long oil plume remains in Gulf, as Woods Hole scientists contend. To the contrary, monitoring ships have found that the oil concentration in the Gulf has dropped to parts per billion.

AT&T to unveil satellite-enabled smart phone. It switches over if you can’t make the call on AT&T’s terrestrial network. But at $5 per meg of data, surfing the web via satellite ain’t gonna be cheap.

Milk drinkers may lose weight more easily. Just two ounces a day makes a difference, Israeli researchers report.