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Michael Faraday

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss Michael Faraday, the most famous British scientist of the 19th century.

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the eminent 19th-century scientist Michael Faraday. Born into a poor working-class family, he received little formal schooling but became interested in science while working as a bookbinder's apprentice. He is celebrated today for carrying out pioneering research into the relationship between electricity and magnetism. Faraday showed that if a wire was turned in the presence of a magnet or a magnet was turned in relation to a wire, an electric current was generated. This ground-breaking discovery led to the development of the electric generator and ultimately to modern power stations. During his life he became the most famous scientist in Britain and he played a key role in founding the Royal Institution's Christmas lectures which continue today.


Geoffrey Cantor
Professor Emeritus of the History of Science at the University of Leeds

Laura Herz
Professor of Physics at the University of Oxford

Frank James
Professor of the History of Science at the Royal Institution

Producer: Victoria Brignell.

Available now

43 minutes

Last on

Christmas Eve 2015 21:30


Geoffrey Cantor at the University of Leeds

Laura Herz at the University of Oxford

Frank James at the Royal Institution

Michael Faraday – The Royal Institution

Correspondence of Michael Faraday

‘Safety Underground: Mining and the Miners’ Lamp’ – Gresham College

‘Safety at Sea and Lighthouses’ – Gresham College

Michael Faraday – MacTutor Archive

Michael Faraday - Wikipedia

Electromagnetic induction - Wikipedia

Faraday effect - Wikipedia



Geoffrey Cantor, Michael Faraday: Sandemanian and Scientist: A Study of Science and Religion in the Nineteenth Century (Palgrave Macmillan, 1991)

Geoffrey Cantor, David Gooding and Frank A. J. L. James, Michael Faraday (Palgrave Macmillan, 1991)

Michael Faraday (ed. Frank James), The Chemical History of a Candle (first published 1861; Oxford University Press, 2011)

David Gooding and Frank A. J. L. James (eds.), Faraday Rediscovered: Essays on the Life and Work of Michael Faraday 1791–1867 (Macmillan/Stockton Press, 1985)

James Hamilton, Faraday: The Life (HarperCollins, 2002)

Frank A. J. L. James, Michael Faraday: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press, 2010)

Frank James (ed.), The Correspondence of Michael Faraday, 6 volumes (Institution of Engineering and Technology, 1991-2012)

Silvanus Phillips Thompson, Michael Faraday: His Life and Work (first published 1901; Elibron, 2004)



Role Contributor
Presenter Melvyn Bragg
Interviewed Guest Geoffrey Cantor
Interviewed Guest Laura Herz
Interviewed Guest Frank James
Producer Victoria Brignell


  • Christmas Eve 2015 09:00
  • Christmas Eve 2015 21:30

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