Michael Faraday - Creativity and Science
Michael Faraday (1791-1867)
English scientist (pictured right).
The first person to generate electricity from a magnet.
Invented the first electric motor and dynamo and discovered the
laws of electrolysis.
Why was he so creative?
Faraday (pictured right in his early 30's) came from a poor background, left school at 13
and became a bookbinder’s apprentice in 1805.
But he was determined to become a scientist after:
- reading an article on electricity in the Encyclopaedia Britannica.
- an invitation to a lecture by Humphry Davy (the discoverer of chlorine, sodium and
His work was driven by his Christian beliefs, which were even more important to him than
He belonged to a church, which strictly followed Jesus’s principles of love and humility.
This is why he refused a knighthood.
3. Love of learning
His continual thirst for knowledge made him eager to learn from other brilliant
The English chemist, Humphry Davy (pictured right) gave him a job at
the Royal Institution as his laboratory assistant in 1830.
4. Family support
He was helped by his:
- mother (who supported him and her three other children with little money, because his
father, a blacksmith, was often ill).
- wife, Sarah (whom he met at church, pictured right together).
He is often known as the great experimenter, because all his discoveries were made from endless
experiments in his laboratory.
He had marvellous ingenuity and imagination, which gave him the
ability to try lots of different things before proving something.
Faraday (pictured right c1861) was always prepared to challenge existing
For example, he disproved the generally held view that electricity was a fluid that flowed through wires like
water through a pipe.
He also made electrical equipment possible by his revolutionary discovery of power
generated by electrical and magnetic fields.
7. Health and hard work
He pushed himself very hard during his successful experiments from 1831 to 1839.
But then his health broke down, and he did nothing very creative for six years.
His church was always very important to his mental health.
Faraday loved new ideas and had an extremely curious mind.
He had a fiery temperament but the self-discipline to convert that passion into something
positive and useful.
10. Mass appeal
- an international celebrity who made science popular.
- a great communicator (who clearly explained his ideas to the public).
He worked at the Royal Institution in London where he began the Christmas lectures for children in 1826
(pictured right is his 1856 lecture).
His lectures were fascinating and entertained many people including the writer, Charles Dickens (pictured right).
Key quotes on
But still try, for who knows what is possible.
Without experiment I am nothing.
Key quote on the learning
I believe some hesitate because they do not like their thoughts disturbed.