|Introduction to The restless Universe|
1 The lawful Universe2 The clockwork Universe
3 The irreversible Universe
4 The intangible Universe
5 The uncertain Universe
6 Closing items
Other titles in the Physical World series
Classical physics of matter
Static fields and potentials
Dynamic fields and waves
Quantum physics: an introduction
Quantum physics of matter
Featured PhysicistsMichael Faraday (1791-1867)
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Click here to visit the main section concerning Faraday in 4 the intangible UniverseAmongst his many achievements, he is credited with the construction of the first electric motor and the discovery of both the principle and the method whereby a rotating magnet can be used to create an electric current in a coil of wire (still the basis of modern electricity generating plants). Faraday never became a very able mathematician, and it was his profoundly physical way of viewing the world that led him to create the concept of a field.
Michael Faraday was the son of a blacksmith. Apprenticed to a bookbinder at 14, he read about science, became enthralled with the subject, secured a job as a laboratory assistant at the Royal Institution in London, and eventually rose to be the Institution's Director and one of the most accomplished experimental researchers of all time.
|Figure 1.18 Faraday's apparatus demonstrating the principle of the electric motor.|
The upper end of a stiff wire is suspended in such a way that it is free to rotate. The lower end of the wire is immersed in the liquid metal mercury, and is free to move. The wire and its suspension form part of an electrical circuit that can be supplied with electric current from a battery. In the middle of the pool of mercury, next to the wire, is a short cylindrical magnet. When an electric current is passed through the wire it moves around the magnet. The use of mercury allows the current to continue flowing even though the wire is moving.
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