1831 – Electromagnetic Induction is Discovered

As part of our 200 year anniversary we are celebrating significant discoveries since 1817 – 2017. This week we are in 1831 and the discovery of electromagnetic induction.

Michael Faraday is credited as discovering electromagnetic induction on 29th August 1831.

However, with this in mind, it has been suggested that significant breakthroughs were made both in 1829 by Francesco Zantedeschi, an Italian Physicist and in 1830 by Joseph Henery but as neither of them published their findings it remains Faraday’s discovery.

Faraday found that “electromotive force produced around a closed path is proportional to the rate of change of the magnetic flux through any surface bounded by that path.”*

In his first experiment he wrapped two wires around the opposite sides of an iron ring and connected one of the wires to a galvanometer and one to a battery. The battery provides the current which flows through the small coil which creates a magnetic field.

If the small coil is then moved in or out of the larger coil the magnetic flux changes within that large coil and this is shown through the galvanometer. If the coils are kept stationary then there is no induction.

Despite having very little formal education growing up Michael Faraday is considered one of the most influential figures in history. Not only making significant discoveries (as discussed) in Physics but also in Chemistry where he is credited with an impressive list of discoveries such as:

  • Benzene
  • Investigating the clathrate hydrate of chlorine
  • An early version of the Bunsen Burner
  • The system of oxidation numbers

Faraday died in 1867 at the aged of 75 by which time he had become Fullerian Professor of Chemistry at the Royal Institution of Great Britain which is a lifetime position, received an honorary degree from Oxford University and even been granted a knighthood, which he declined.

His work continues to inspire people today.

If this has left you thinking ‘Please can I have some more’ then pop back next week when the year will be 1837 and Charles Dicken’s publishes Oliver Twist (sorry about that, I couldn’t help it).