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.
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?