Professor Doctor Sophie Scott in Cognitive Neuroscience at University College – London
THE CHRISTMAS LECTURES of The Royal Institution, started by Michael Faraday in 1825, and now broadcast on national television every year (and FREE right here on IReallyAppreciateScience.Com ), are on of the UK’s most celebrated science series.
“Why We Laugh” <= TED Talk by Prof Dr. Sophie Scott on YouTube
Who was Michael Faraday?
Michael Faraday was born on 22 September 1791 in south London. His family was from a poor middle class background, and Faraday received only a basic education. When he was 14, he was “apprenticed” ( a nice word for “sold”) to a local bookbinder and during the next seven years, educated himself by reading books on a wide range of scientific subjects. In 1812, Faraday attended four lectures given by the chemist Humphry Davy at the Royal Institution. Faraday subsequently wrote to Davy asking for a job as his assistant. Davy turned him down but in 1813 appointed him to the job of chemical assistant at the Royal Institution.
Faraday continued to work at the Royal Institution, helping with experiments for Davy and other scientists. In 1821 he published his work on electromagnetic rotation (the principle behind the electric motor). In 1826, he founded the Royal Institution’s Friday Evening Discourses and in the same year the Christmas Lectures, both of which continue to this day. He himself gave many lectures, establishing his reputation as the outstanding scientific lecturer of his time.
In 1831, Faraday discovered electromagnetic induction, the principle behind the electric transformer and generator. This discovery was crucial in allowing electricity to be transformed from a curiosity into a powerful new technology.
He was partly responsible for coining many familiar words including ‘electrode’, ‘cathode’ and ‘ion’. Faraday’s scientific knowledge was harnessed for practical use through various official appointments, including scientific adviser to Trinity House (1836-1865) and Professor of Chemistry at the Royal Military Academy in Woolwich (1830-1851). His name was used for ‘farad’, originally describing a unit of electrical charge but later a unit of electrical capacitance.