The Victorians "discovered" electricity. The word went all the way back to the Greeks, and various scientists through the centuries saw electrical static and imagined its power. But it was Benjamin Franklin with his famous kite experiment who begins to really understand the potential power of this mysterious explosion. In the Nineteenth Century two Victorians, Michael Faraday and Maxwell advance our modern understanding of electricity.

(Wikipedia) Michael Faraday(1791–1867)was an English scientist who contributed to the study of electromagnetism and electrochemistry. His main discoveries include the principles underlying electromagnetic induction, diamagnetism and electrolysis. Although Faraday received little formal education, he was one of the most influential scientists in history. It was by his research on the magnetic field around a conductor carrying a direct current that Faraday established the basis for the concept of the electromagnetic field in physics. Faraday also established that magnetism could affect rays of light and that there was an underlying relationship between the two phenomena. He similarly discovered the principles of electromagnetic induction and diamagnetism, and the laws of electrolysis. His inventions of electromagnetic rotary devices formed the foundation of electric motor technology, and it was largely due to his efforts that electricity became practical for use in technology. Faraday was an excellent experimentalist who conveyed his ideas in clear and simple language; his mathematical abilities, however, did not extend as far as trigonometry and were limited to the simplest algebra. James Clerk Maxwell took the work of Faraday and others and summarized it in a set of equations which is accepted as the basis of all modern theories of electromagnetic phenomena. On Faraday's uses of lines of force, Maxwell wrote that they show Faraday "to have been in reality a mathematician of a very high order – one from whom the mathematicians of the future may derive valuable and fertile methods." Albert Einstein kept a picture of Faraday on his study wall, alongside pictures of Isaac Newton and James Clerk Maxwell. Physicist Ernest Rutherford stated, "When we consider the magnitude and extent of his discoveries and their influence on the progress of science and of industry, there is no honour too great to pay to the memory of Faraday, one of the greatest scientific discoverers of all time."


Alan W. Hirshfeld,

The Electric Life of Michael Faraday,

Walker Books; First Edition edition (March 7, 2006),

ISBN 0802714706

John Gribbin,

The Scientists: A History of Science Told Through the Lives of Its Greatest Inventors,

Random House Trade Paperbacks,

ISBN 0812967887

Richard Holmes,

The Age of Wonder: The Romantic Generation and the Discovery of the Beauty and Terror of Science,

Vintage; 1st edition (March 2, 2010),

ISBN 1400031877