Michael Faraday (1791-1867)

Michael Faraday was a British scientist born in 1791 in Newington Butts, England. He was born into poverty and although he did not receive formal education and actually taught himself in his early years, he contributed greatly to the studies of electromagnetism and electrochemistry. At age 14, he became the apprentice of George Riebau, a local bookseller. During that time, he read many books including The Improvement of the Mind and Conversations on Chemistry. Six years later, he began attending lectures to continue to further his education.
Those lectures by Sir Humphry Davy at the Royal Institution of Great Britain in London. He sent a letter comprised of his extensive notes requesting employment from Davy. While no positions were open at the time, Davy remembered Faraday and offered him a position as a chemical laboratory assistant in 1812. He ended his second apprenticeship eight years later. Using the techniques he mastered during his tenure under Davy, Faraday developed a series of discoveries cementing his place in the scientific community.

Faraday collaborated with Charles Wheatstone on the theory of sound as he ventured into the field of electricity and many experiments were crafted in hopes of gaining more insight on the subject. In 1832, he was granted an honorary Doctor of Civil Law degree from the University of Oxford. He was also offered a position of knightship but he ultimately turned it down due to his devout Christian beliefs.

Faraday, aged 75, passed away at his home at Hampton Court in 1867. Although he turned down the offer to be interred in Westminster Abbey, a memorial plaque was placed near Isaac Newton’s tomb. He was the inspiration to other scientists who followed his work, such as Albert Einstein who kept a photograph of Faraday, Newton, and Maxwell. Ernest Rutherford once stated that Faraday was one of the greatest scientific discoverers of all time.