by John Hudson Tiner
Television and newspaper advertisements make remarkable claims about their products. If you believe the commercials, the latest face soap will change your life. People soon doubt such statements. Does anyone ever make really important discoveries?
Yes, indeed. Michael Faraday, an Englishman who lived in the 1800s, did make a difference. You have heard of Napoleon, Queen Victoria, and Abraham Lincoln. Michael Faraday lived at about the same time as these people. He did as much to change the world as they did.
Michael Faraday invented the transformer, the first useful electric motor, and the first electric generator. Scientists consider him the father of the modern electrical age. If you want to see what Michael Faraday did, look around you. Almost every electric device in your home uses one of his inventions.
At first, it looked like Michael Faraday would grow up as the unknown son of a poor London blacksmith, like his father. Faraday had nine brothers and sisters. He attended school only long enough to learn to read, write, and do simple arithmetic.
His family was desperately poor, but intensely spiritual. His parents taught him Christian principles. God would attend to his well being. If he wished for more in his life, then he could follow the biblical instruction to "Ask, seek, and knock" (Matthew 7:7).
He tried to remain faithful to God throughout his life.
Rather than attending school, he had to take a job. He worked as a delivery boy for a bookstore. The owner of the store, Mr. George Riebau, encouraged Michael Faraday to read the books that passed through his hands.
He used the books of the shop as his texts and guides. He taught himself to speak and write correctly. In this way, he gained an education.
Faraday wanted to attend science lectures given by Humphry Davy, England's most successful scientist. Davy showed the most recent scientific inventions. Gases exploded. Bolts of electricity jumped between wires. People flocked to the lectures. The tickets cost too much for him. However, a customer of the bookstore got extra tickets. He gave one of them to Michael Faraday.
He attended the lecture and took careful notes of it. Afterward, he wrote a summary and illustrated it with colored drawings. He sent the report to Davy by way of introduction. He begged to work as Davy's assistant. The notebook impressed the great scientist. Although he offered a job to Michael Faraday, he warned, "You'll make far more money in the book store."
Faraday accepted the offer. It did pay less than his salary at the book shop. "I count it worth something to be working beside one of England's great scientists," he explained.
Only seven months later, Faraday set out with Humphry Davy on a grand tour of Europe. They met most of the leading scientists in Europe. Faraday soaked up all the knowledge he could. Until that trip, he had never traveled more than twelve miles from London.
The unschooled son of a blacksmith now served as assistant to the best known scientist in the world. Incredible! Was it luck? Was it merely chance that Michael Faraday happened to find a job in a bookstore? Was it merely chance that the bookstore owner encouraged him to pursue his education? Was it merely chance that a customer gave him a ticket to Humphry Davy's lecture? Was it merely chance that Humphry Davy took an interest in Michael Faraday? Was it merely chance that Michael Faraday traveled with Humphry Davy on the tour of Europe?
Michael Faraday didn't think so. He knew that good things came to those who served the Lord. He succeeded through hard work and trust in God.
He served as Davy's assistant for seven years. He became director of the laboratory. Slowly he earned the reputation as England's best scientist. The Royal Society of London elected him as a member. It was a treasured honor, certainly the greatest honor a scientist could receive at that time.
For years, electricity has been a plaything of science. Eighty years earlier, Benjamin Franklin performed his kite flying experiment in an electrical storm. He showed that lightning is static electricity, but on a much grandeur scale. Since the time of Franklin, not a single useful invention had made use of electricity.
Michael Faraday put electricity to work. He invented the first practical electric generators and motors. He built the devices with his own hands.
His fame exceeded that of any living scientist. Like Humphry Davy, he began a series of lectures on science. Michael Faraday never forgot his humble beginning. During Christmas, he offered free lectures for children. One of these, about candles, became a favorite of the crowd. He wrote a book based on his candle lecture. Until then, authors wrote science books only for adults. Michael Faraday wrote this one for children, the first science book written especially for young people.
Whenever people list the top ten scientists of all time, they always include Michael Faraday. This great man was a sincere Christian. He believed in the Bible as the Word of God and accepted Christ as the guide for his life. He attended worship service every Sunday and served as an elder in the local church.
Michael Faraday is a delightful example of what a person can do by putting biblical faith in action.
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