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Talk:Michael Faraday/Draft

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 Definition (1791 – 1867) Was an English physicist and chemist whose best known work was on the closely connected phenomena of electricity and magnetism; his discoveries lead to the electrification of industrial societies. [d] [e]
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Faraday's cage

I shake my fists at his cage when I have no cell reception in buildings. --Robert W King 11:15, 31 March 2008 (CDT)


As far as I'm concerned this article is finished. If you compare it with the WP article you will find that certain facts are missing in the present article:

  • the clathrate hydrate of chlorine, bunsen burner and the system of oxidation numbers.
  • Outhgill in Westmorland
  • George Riebau, John Tatum, William Dance, John Payne, Jane Apreece, John 'Mad Jack' Fuller, Joseph Henry, Francesco Zantedeschi
  • Diffusion of gases
  • Nanoparticles
  • Lighthouses, corrosion and environmental science
  • and more ...

The reasons that I did not mention them are:

  • Do not overload with trivia. (For instance Riebau and Apreece have a WP article that says nothing more than that they played a role in Faraday's life).
  • Doubt whether fact is correct (nanoparticles, environmental science, very fashionable topics, but none of my sources other than WP mentions them). I have doubts about oxidation numbers, these date from the 20th century. If Faraday had a concept like it, it needs lost of qualification and explanation.
  • Is Outhgill in Yorkshire? (I saw two editions of Brittanica, both state that Faraday sr. came from Yorkshire, but fact is too unimportant to check).
  • Unimportant part of Faraday's work (this point is debatable). E.g., my sources do not mention his lighthouse work, or only in passing. Same for bunsen burner.

I won't bother to give a similar list of facts that are in the present article and not in WP. If somebody will be good enough to remove my non-native-English awkwardnesses (or errors), I'll appreciate that. --Paul Wormer 11:30, 18 April 2008 (CDT)

PS. J. Gribbin (loc. cit.) writes Ribeau (WP: Riebau) and William Payne (WP: John Payne). Another reason to not mention these names.--Paul Wormer 13:07, 20 April 2008 (CDT)

HURRAY! nice job. Richard Jensen 14:01, 18 April 2008 (CDT)
Would it be a good idea to temporarily back off the nomination, to allow a copy-edit? I will volunteer, it nobody else does. (In my copious spare time.... :-( J. Noel Chiappa 19:19, 18 April 2008 (CDT)
sure--let's postdate the approval to when it's copyedited. :) Richard Jensen 19:42, 18 April 2008 (CDT)
I now realize that I added a very few of these things back (Ribeau, Dance, etc) because I don't like nameless people playing roles. (I did leave out the name of Davy's prior assistant! :-) If anyone wants to delete them, feel free, but if I make one more edit to this article I'm going to scream! J. Noel Chiappa 23:37, 25 April 2008 (CDT)

Size Faraday's cube (cage)

Faraday writes about a "cube of twelve feet". He later sits in this cube, so that it cannot be twelve cubic feet. It could be 12×12×12 feet, but one wonders why it had to be so huge. Moreover, he writes: "a glass tube of about six feet in length was passed through its side, leaving about four feet within and two feet on the outside" and so I concluded that the cube was 4×4×4 feet, but I haven't found any corroboration on this. --Paul Wormer 13:04, 20 April 2008 (CDT)

One of the two Royal Institute articles mentions that it was a 12 foot cube - they talk about how only the large lecture hall was big enough to hold it. I have emended the text appropriately. J. Noel Chiappa 23:37, 25 April 2008 (CDT)

Approval Issues

The approval date has arrived, but there appears to be some open issues concerning copyediting. Also, as the specific version is not selected, I am not sure if the edits that occurred after the 18th are to be included. I will wait till these issues are handled. --D. Matt Innis 22:23, 22 April 2008 (CDT)/constable

why don't we do the approval nomination today and the approval tomorrow to keep the p's and q's cleam. Richard Jensen 23:01, 22 April 2008 (CDT)
Okay, I'll stop by again later tonight to make sure everyone has had a chance to take a look. I did put the version number int he metadata template, so this is the version that I assume you want to approve. If there are any further changes, be sure to update teh version if you still approve. --D. Matt Innis 11:58, 23 April 2008 (CDT)
Sorry, I'm confused by the interaction between copyediting, and approval. I offered to do copyediting, but thought I couldn't as the approval clock had already started (or something). Am I to understand that if in fact I copyedit it, and the Approving Editors continue to approve, then the version which I copyedited will become the Approved version? If so, I'll turn to. I just didn't want to mess up the Approval process. J. Noel Chiappa 13:59, 23 April 2008 (CDT)
To me it seems that there is abolutely no rush in approving this article. I much rather have correct English, even it it would take half a year or so. (I, as main contributor, did not invite approval yet, it was Richard's own initiative).--Paul Wormer 14:05, 23 April 2008 (CDT)
In my opinion routine copyediting and small changes are allowed until final approval. The approval process of a few days allows everyone to look for small and large errors. The small errors or omissions we correct immediately, and if anyone spots a major problem then we stop the approval process until the problem is resolved. Surely we do not want to restart the clock every time some minor change is made.Richard Jensen 14:17, 23 April 2008 (CDT)
Well, I'm going to take Paul at his word, and dive in. I would agree that it makes sense that copyediting shouldn't really affect the clock - particularly if they approving editors approve the result (which is, I think, what's really key). But even if it does affect the clock, not the end of the world... and good content is more important! J. Noel Chiappa 14:44, 23 April 2008 (CDT)
Noel, to clarify (I hope), once an editor places the ToApprove template and gives a date, that just starts the clock toward approval. It is expected that others will jump in to copyedit and suggest changes and even make changes. However, the version that is approved remains the history version that the nominating editor has placed in the metadata template. That editor may at any time change the version to an updated version if he/she feels that they still support the work. He/she may also remove the template, as can any editor that thinks the article is not correct. As a constable, I can only perform the mechanics of approval on the version that is on the metadata page, so keep an eye on that version number if changes were made. The nominating editor may or may not choose to include the new edits in his/her approval. The constable will review the talk page to make sure there were not any unresolved issues and the proper procedures were followed. If the date has arrived and there are no unresolved issues, the constable will protect the page. --D. Matt Innis 19:33, 23 April 2008 (CDT)
Also, notice that Richard (the nominating editor) cannot make content changes in the article for an individual approval to occur, so any content changes need to be made by others. Then it is up to Richard to decide if he want to change the date/version to include the new changes. --D. Matt Innis 19:42, 23 April 2008 (CDT)
Got it (I think :-). So, given the extensive changes I have made, the esteemed Prof. Jensen will himself have to switch the nomination to point my latest version, but that won't reset the clock. Do I have that right? J. Noel Chiappa 20:34, 23 April 2008 (CDT)
Yes, that is right. See approval rules, too. Ultimately, these are the rules, so as long as you follow them. Notice also the section on revoking approvals. --D. Matt Innis 20:46, 23 April 2008 (CDT)

Copyediting issues

You should take a look at the intro section; I added a good chunk of intro text because I felt it was really needed to describe for the average reader what he did, and why it was so important. In the rest of the text I have gone through so far, including the rest of the intro, I haven't actually made any major changes to your text; it just looks like there are a lot of changes because of some changes which I made in where the paragraph breaks (which the 'diff' command relies on a little too heavily, I think) are. Anyway, I hope (and suspect) you'll like the new intro better, but let me know what you think, and I can tweak it more if needed. J. Noel Chiappa 15:38, 23 April 2008 (CDT)

OK, I've gone up through the end of the bio section. Again, although there are quite a number of small changes to improve the flow of the English, I made few content changes. I added some material about both his discovery of i) how to make electricity continuously move a magnet, and ii) electric induction, to make it clearer what they are, and why they are important. I also added a sentence about his death and burial, since I thought that was of interest. I am working on the 'scientific work' section now. J. Noel Chiappa 18:47, 23 April 2008 (CDT)

UK in Europe?

Noel, I can tell that you have a British passport: traveling in Europe means for us continentals traveling on the continent and in the UK. I know that in the UK people see that differently. You know the prewar Times headline, don't you? It read: Dense fog: Europe isolated. I beg to differ. --Paul Wormer 16:21, 23 April 2008 (CDT)

Good point! (And I remember the fog joke - I love it! :-) I'll fix it in a second (Larry is distracting me in a variety of places). J. Noel Chiappa 16:49, 23 April 2008 (CDT)
I fixed it already. Did you also read the science part, or not yet?--Paul Wormer 16:51, 23 April 2008 (CDT)
Yeah, I just saw that. I haven't done the science yet; like I said, Larry distracted me, and my family also just walked in the door (it's 6PM here). I'm off to work on it right now. I take it you liked the new material in the intro? J. Noel Chiappa 17:04, 23 April 2008 (CDT)
Yes, it emphasizes the technological aspects, which always is a seller. To avoid misunderstanding I rephrased conjoined area, because magnetism and electricity were not conjoined at all at the beginning of F's career. At the end they were, for a large part due to F's work. I don't like the "although he did work in chemistry". He was as important as chemist as as physicist, and I feel in "although" something secondary. --Paul Wormer 19:08, 23 April 2008 (CDT)
It turns out that I (for other reaons) moved 'conjoined', 'affiliated', etc around, but I will re-read that section to make sure that it makes clear that before Oersted/Faraday/etc, nobody knew that E+M were connected.
On the relative importance of his physics and chemistry work, I'm going to have to disagree with you - although I will note that most of the 'great scientist' books take the same line. Yes, his work in chemistry (in particular electro-chemistry) was huge, but when you compare it to the impact of the physics he did (which was the precursor the electrification of the industrial world...) - hard to beat that. Then you get into his influence on later physics, with his thinking about fields, which underpin most of modern physics. However, I will look at the chemistry languge in the intro, and beef it up a bit. J. Noel Chiappa 22:40, 23 April 2008 (CDT)

shop or store?

I see the RI with his labs more as a (work)shop than as a (department) store, that is why I wrote "lived above the shop". Are you sure that "store" is to be preferred?--Paul Wormer 19:46, 23 April 2008 (CDT)

The basic phrase is definitely a common euphemism in English for 'living where you work'. My sense is that the variant "living above the store" is more common than "living above the shop". However, that might be a UK-US thing; I think "shop" is more common in the UK. Either would be readily understood by people everywhere, though. J. Noel Chiappa 20:09, 23 April 2008 (CDT)


You write that the rotation of the polarizaton plane by a magnet was predicted theoretically. I didn't know that and find this fascinating. Who predicted that?--Paul Wormer 19:54, 23 April 2008 (CDT)

Let me see; that sort of came from this page from the University of St Andrews. I see that I didn't get it quite right: he had apparently looked for an effect like this earlier (according to this page), but failed: he only tried again after prompting from William Thomson (Lord Kelvin), who had done a theoretical analysis. I will clarify that in the page (and add that link to the External links, it's a good one). J. Noel Chiappa 20:09, 23 April 2008 (CDT)
I find the same version of events in the Faraday Biography page by Frank James. J. Noel Chiappa 20:30, 23 April 2008 (CDT)
I know that Thomson suggested this experiment but "theoretical prediction" is overstating it. For one thing Faraday had to experiment how to hold the magnet in relation to the light beam and the polarizer. A real theoretical prediction would have told him. Thomson made a suggestion of the type: "It is conceivable that ..." --Paul Wormer 21:27, 23 April 2008 (CDT)
(My computer fritzed out; just back online now.) I will reword that section to make all this clear. J. Noel Chiappa 22:20, 23 April 2008 (CDT)
Also; that source says:
William Thomson .. wrote to Faraday on 6 August 1845 telling him of his mathematical predictions that a magnetic field should affect the plane of polarised light.
which sounds a little stronger than a mere suggestion (and the date sound like there's a copy of the letter extant, to verify). So I have beefed up the text a tiny bit from the 'suggested'. J. Noel Chiappa 23:37, 25 April 2008 (CDT)

Rotational motion

I had left out the "rotational" because I was trying to emphasize that Faraday's big step forward past Oersted was that although the latter produced motion, it was a one 'one time' thing; i.e. he turned on the current, the magnet needle moved, and then the motion ceased. So before Faraday it was known that electricity could move a magnet. To me, his big breakthrough was in working out how to cause continuous motion, i.e. motion that wouldn't stop as long as the current was on. I thought the "rotational" might get in the way of beginning readers understanding that point. Or are you saying there's something special about it being rotary, in particular? J. Noel Chiappa 22:25, 23 April 2008 (CDT)

Oh, I just saw your edit summary: "added rotational to motion, this is highly significant because it undermined action at a distance which was thought to be rectilinear". I'm afraid my brain is starting to falter, I've been working at this too long; I will try again tomorrow morning to understand this.

Also, speaking of Faraday and Oersted, I was just looking at a book which made the point that while Oersted's work showed that electricity could move a magnet, Faraday was novel (I don't know if he was the first to have this thought, any insight you could offer about this would be good) in that he had the thought 'if I hold the magnet steady, the wire with the current should move'. Again, that's a significant point the article should make. J. Noel Chiappa 22:45, 23 April 2008 (CDT)

Two things about this motion: (i) continuous and fast are remarkable (Oersted could hardly see his needle move) and (ii) rotational, because this was generally seen as undermining "action at a distance" which had to be rectilinear (at least that was believed to be an essential feature of it). Much of Faraday's work was on the study of "lines of force". These often are curved (think of the famous picture of a bar magnet with iron filings around it). Faraday knew that he was undermining with his ideas the authority of men like Cavendish, Poisson and Epinus (see[1] p. 362 and note that Faraday uses the term "induction" for electrostatic attraction and repulsion. I have never heard of Epinus). As I wrote, Thomson picked up these ideas and founded (together with Maxwell) the field concept, which undoubtedly still is the major pilar of physics.--Paul Wormer 11:34, 24 April 2008 (CDT)
I still find this whole 'action at a distance rectilinearity' thing a bit confusing. I mean, planets have circular (well, OK, technically elliptical, but basically circular) orbits, and they go around in them forever. Is the point rather that unlike gravity fields, magnetic fields (e.g. those around current-carrying wires) have circular patterns; i.e. there are looping paths in which the field vectors at every point along the path are tangent to the path (sorry, I've forgotten how to say that in calculus - something about an integral over a closed path summing to zero).
That page won't display on this computer; I looked for that book in Google books (which does work), but they don't seem to have that volume. I'll go try to read it on anotehr computer. J. Noel Chiappa 13:24, 24 April 2008 (CDT)
You confuse action (=force) with orbit. The orbits are elliptical but the force between, say Sun and Earth, is rectilinear. The magnetic forceline around a conductor is circular.--Paul Wormer 13:59, 24 April 2008 (CDT)
Right, that's what I was trying to say above, with "looping paths in which the field vectors at every point along the path are tangent to the path" (although they wouldn't be exactly tangential, now that I think about it, because otherwise you wouldn't get any component of the force normal to the path, i.e. no change in direction).
I tried some other computers, but that page wouldn't come up on them, either. I think it's a security thing, I'll have to see if I can get around it. J. Noel Chiappa 10:44, 25 April 2008 (CDT)


Well, I'm beat - I'm going to get some sleep, and do the last sections tomorrow morning.

Speaking of last sections, I see that we have nothing about his chemistry work in the 'Biography' section. I propose to move some of the relevant material from the 'Chemistry' section of 'Science' there, leaving (as in physics) just the expermients in that section? J. Noel Chiappa 23:53, 23 April 2008 (CDT)


One of the books I have that covers him has this to say:

Neither the motor or [generator] are perhaps his greatest achievements. He went on to .. demonstrate the ultimate unity between all forces, including E, M, light and even gravity, and to develop the idea of fields of force. This crucial insight has paved the way for modern physics...

Now, this is perhaps a little overblow (gravity?), but I think it does make an important point: his view of fields, not highly thought of in his day, does now underly basically all of modern physics. Should we say something like this? J. Noel Chiappa 23:53, 23 April 2008 (CDT)

This definitely is exaggerated, his practical EM work is important and concrete, while his ideas on fields were only rudimentary. One can speculate, without "overblowing" it, that Thomson and Maxwell would have invented fields without Faraday.--Paul Wormer 11:41, 24 April 2008 (CDT)
But Maxwell himself, according to at least one bio always gave credit to Faraday for the basic ideas. Whether it was just the equations, or Faraday's concept of fields, this particular source doesn't say. However, a number of the bios I am looking at do mention his work on fields, so I think it merits a mention (even if not as gaudy as the one about which quoted). J. Noel Chiappa 10:44, 25 April 2008 (CDT)
I found another source which was explicit about Maxwell giving credit to Faraday for fields. J. Noel Chiappa 23:37, 25 April 2008 (CDT)

Plagiarism? not

On the plagiarism issue, it's only a rumor and rejected by Faraday, Davy and Wollaston. to quote the latest study:

Within a month of his discovery rumours were circulating that Faraday had used some experimental work of both Davy and Wollaston without due acknowledgement. Faraday, just turned thirty, was disturbed by these rumours and was able to satisfy both Davy and Wollaston as to the propriety of his conduct, but this episode provided a foretaste of what was to come. In March 1823 Faraday performed an experiment, suggested by Davy, which unexpectedly resulted in chlorine being liquefied. Much to Davy's annoyance Faraday published this result. This episode contributed to Davy's opposition to Faraday's election to fellowship of the Royal Society to which he was nominated by Phillips in May 1823. Davy asked Faraday to take down the certificate, which he refused to do, and Davy became angry. Nevertheless Faraday was elected in early 1824, but, as he put it, he was thereafter ‘by no means in the same relation as to scientific communication with Sir Humphry Davy’ (Jones, 1st edn, 1.353). from Frank A. J. L. James, "Faraday, Michael (1791–1867)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Sept 2004; online edn, Jan 2008.

Richard Jensen 01:48, 24 April 2008 (CDT)

I know about this story and tried to cover it by writing "alleged plagiarism". But I didn't know that Faraday convinced Davy, because I followed Gribbin, who writes (p. 417): This unpleasantness [the alleged plagiarism (PW)] may have been a factor in Davy attempting to prevent Faraday becoming a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1824. Elsewhere I read that there was one vote against Faraday. I also wrote that Davy was displeased by the liquefaction of chlorine. If you or Noel think that this plagiarism episode is not represented well, then maybe Noel can change/add a few words. If Richard would do it he could no longer approve the article (Matt is very strict).--Paul Wormer 11:09, 24 April 2008 (CDT)
PS I just noted that Richard modified the text, now you blew it, we have to find another editor.--Paul Wormer 11:44, 24 April 2008 (CDT)
We can fix that by having Richard withdraw his changes; Matt has allowed this on previous articles. He can then still approve the article. I left a message on his talk page to that effect, but I don't think he has logged in yet to see it. I have more work on the Faradat article done, but I am waiting for him to undo those edits before I save them (to keep the edit history simple). J. Noel Chiappa 12:02, 24 April 2008 (CDT)

I've been struggling to deal with this plagiarism thing. I think part of the problem might be the words. To me, "plagiarism" means 'trying to pass someone else's work off as your own', which is subtly different from 'not giving proper ackowledgement'. (To give an explicit example, if Faraday had written 'I did X, Y and Z', where those were all things he'd actually done himself, but didn't mention P and Q, which Davy had done, and which were important clues to him, that would be 'no proper acknowledgement'. Only if he'd said 'I did P and Q' would that be 'plagiarism'.) I acknowledge that the two are very closely related, and you can probably find examples which are right in the middle, but clearly the extreme forms of each are rather different.

In this particular case, I get the sense that what Faraday may have done was more 'lack of acknowledgement' than 'plagiarism' (as in 'claiming that someone else's work was your own'). I don't have any Faraday biographies on hand, alas (just the typical 'great scientist' books, and the better onlines stuff), so I am working with little material, but I spent a while looking at this (which is part of what I was doing yesterday in the silence), and as far as I can tell, most sources seem to indicate that Davy was upset about 'lack of acknowledgement of prior work', not actual 'plagiarism' (as defined above). Paul, can you tell me where you got your plagiarism material from? Did they go into any details?

For the moment I will write the text as 'lack of credit', but we can always change it (in a later revision, if need be). J. Noel Chiappa 10:30, 25 April 2008 (CDT)

70 m or 70 cm?

As far as I remember it was a coil of 220 feet (70 m).--Paul Wormer 13:41, 24 April 2008 (CDT)

As in '70m of wire used in winding it', or '70m in length (physically)'? The latter seems pretty unlikely - that would be as high as a 20-story building, if stood on end! I doubt they had an interior room that would have held it, either.
Also, is it OK to move some material about his chemistry work into the 'Biograpghy' section (see above)? J. Noel Chiappa 13:46, 24 April 2008 (CDT)
See Bence Jones (online) p. 5. Cylinder of 220 feet, bar magnet of 8.5 inch. Maybe we should not go metric and use these bloody feet and inches.--Paul Wormer 13:49, 24 April 2008 (CDT)
Holy smoke! Where on earth did they put it? I'd really want to look in Faraday's notebooks on that one. I mean, it makes no sense. It would have taken a huge amount of wire, and the effect he was looking for could easily be shown with a much shorter coil. He strikes me as too sensible to have done anything so silly! :-) J. Noel Chiappa 14:12, 24 April 2008 (CDT)
You are right, it must be 220 feet of wire. Earlier he discussed a coil with 203 feet wire. It is a matter of slopppy formulation of Faraday, no doubt. I had a similar problem with his 12 feet cage, see my remark earlier.--Paul Wormer 16:28, 24 April 2008 (CDT)
See here [2] (p. 9). It was 220 feet of wire (8 pieces). Bence Jones was the sloppy formulator, not Faraday. It is very good that you caught this, well done. --Paul Wormer 16:45, 24 April 2008 (CDT) PS The magnet was 12 inch.
Thanks! It did seem a little odd, to me! J. Noel Chiappa 10:44, 25 April 2008 (CDT)


I learned from Knuth that Americans do not have spaces around their mdash. --Paul Wormer 13:55, 24 April 2008 (CDT)

Sigh. I didn't think it made any difference! (And it certinly make the source uglier, to me.) I'll look into it, and put them back. J. Noel Chiappa 14:12, 24 April 2008 (CDT)
A quick web search indicates a certain lack of consensus! See, for instance, this thread, in which several typesetting professionals favor " — ", and the Wikipedia entry, which records a number of major entities (the NYT, and the OUP) which also use spaces. Forget Knuth, which do you like better yourself? :-) J. Noel Chiappa 14:27, 24 April 2008 (CDT)
If the world was meant to use the W3C would have made a bigger stink out of it with each new HTML and CSS spec released. Fuggedaboudit. Just use "--" like everyone else (read: all the real slackers.). --Robert W King 14:46, 24 April 2008 (CDT)
I think there was a discussion about this a while ago and a couple of pros weighed in, saying that em-dashes have no spaces around them while en-dashes *do* have spaces. And that en-dashes are used for dates. Larry, as I recalled, concurred with all of this. On the other hand, as you say, I read the NYT daily, and *they* use spaces around the em-dash. Hayford Peirce 14:50, 24 April 2008 (CDT)
I read Knuth's TeX Book around 1985, since then I have looked maniacally at em-dashes, and I'm sure that the great majority of American texts do not have spaces around them.--Paul Wormer 07:18, 29 April 2008 (CDT)

External links

Hi, those were a few of the best external bio pages; they are duplicates of listings on the External Links subpages - much as 'Further Reading' is the best of the biblio entries. J. Noel Chiappa 14:04, 25 April 2008 (CDT)

Approval notice

Okay all, we have gone over by one day. I can either protect this version as the last one Richard approved (from his talk page), or you can change the date to give yourselves a little more time. --D. Matt Innis 12:32, 24 April 2008 (CDT)

I've asked Richard to put the date back a couple of days. (I assume he's the only one who can do it, since he nominated the article?) J. Noel Chiappa 14:03, 24 April 2008 (CDT)
OK, in accordance with footnote 206.34 of CZ Master Code item 87.44a subsection C, which as is well known, interacts with CZ Ironclad Rule 144A para 23 in this case, notwithstanding the informal suspension of CZ Stopgap Plan 13 part 17 subsection 12, I reverted myself and reset the clock to the current article with approval on 4-26. :) 14:26, 24 April 2008 (CDT)
Ah, there's the problem, we recinded CZ Stopgap Plan 13 part 17 subsection 12 in a private behind closed door meeting. I suppose you didn't get the memo? :) --D. Matt Innis 17:17, 24 April 2008 (CDT)
the memoes that reach me are artfully censored to keep me happy at Mushroom Farm USA where I toil night and day to feed knowledge to the millions. Richard Jensen 17:21, 24 April 2008 (CDT)


I will be traveling home, so I will be away from CZ for a couple of days. I will not be there to celebrate the approval, sniff. --Paul Wormer 19:51, 24 April 2008 (CDT)

Sorry about the gap in activity there; had an unexpected family thing to deal with. Back on it now, though. I hope we can manage OK without you! J. Noel Chiappa 10:13, 25 April 2008 (CDT)


OK, I'm done. It was a pleasure to work on this article, because I have learned so much about him in the process, and gained a much better insight into how important he is. However, I'm now totally sick of this article, and I'm glad to be done with it! J. Noel Chiappa 23:39, 25 April 2008 (CDT)

great job! your reward is a free weekend in Faraday's box (was it 4x4x4 --sounds like a New York City apartment). Richard Jensen 23:55, 25 April 2008 (CDT)

Final pre-approval questions

Please Richard wait a few days before approving, I want to read Noel's changes carefully and I will be busy (and jet lagged) coming days.--Paul Wormer 08:03, 27 April 2008 (CDT)

I changed approval date to 4-30. Keep in mind that approval does not mean the article cannot be changed. Here we have a situation where the experts are unclear on size of the cage, and it's not necessary for CZ to solve the mystery. The next version (after the approvals) will have additional material as well on lighthouses,which kept Faraday busy for years.Richard Jensen 08:42, 27 April 2008 (CDT)
About the lighthouses: to me it seems that a description of this work fits better in the lemma "Trinity House". One short sentence in Faraday's lemma (+ wikilink) is sufficient. As I wrote earlier, most discussions of Faraday's life do not -- or hardly -- touch upon his advisory work, which was definitely subordinate to his basic science work.--Paul Wormer 10:08, 27 April 2008 (CDT)
I came across this stuff relatively late in my work on the article, and I just didn't have the intestinal fortitude to deal with it. It's not just lighthouses, he actually did a fair amount of industrial work; e.g. he did mine safety investigations, etc. I just didn't have the energy to document it all. I also didn't have the werewithal to document his religious beliefs, and events in that part of his life, even though it clearly had a lot of effect on him.
The article could clearly be a lot bigger. But at the same time, we shouldn't be writing a book; if someone wants the book-length treatment, get the book. I'm not sure what the exact perfect length is, but it shouldn't be too much longer than the current length, I think. J. Noel Chiappa 20:20, 28 April 2008

Faraday's cube again

I maintain that Faraday's cube was most likely 4 feet on each edge:

  1. Glass tube of 6 feet with 2 feet sticking out of the cube, as described by Faraday, is my most important argument.
  2. Physics Today March 2008 p. 39 has a painting of the lecture hall of the RI. Evidently there is no room for a 12 feet cube, unless important changes to the carpenting are made. But remember every Friday night there was (and is) a very formal lecture, the audience (in evening dress) would not be received in a building mess.
  3. Frank James (Faraday scholar and author of the articles on the RI site) added to Faraday's remark (i.e., that the cube was built in the lecture theatre) the supposition that it was too big for the lab. Faraday does not say so himself. Maybe a 4 feet cube was too large for the lab already. (A week ago I sent an e-mail to F. James---as the RI site says one can do this and lists his address---bringing up this problem. So far I didn't receive an answer. The RI site doesn't say anything about answers ;-) ).--Paul Wormer 05:21, 27 April 2008 (CDT)

PS A PDF copy of the Physics Today article can be found here: [3] --Paul Wormer 06:24, 27 April 2008 (CDT)

PS2 I'm home again and looked at my copy of Segrè's (Noble Prize winner 1959) delightful book From Falling Bodies to Radio Waves. It has many pages and pictures on Faraday, also a picture of the lecture hall that agrees very well with the one I mentioned above. I guess Segrè had the same problem with the size of the cube, because he writes "huge cube". I propose that, if we cannot settle the issue, we follow this description. --Paul Wormer 08:03, 27 April 2008 (CDT)

About the cube: that is why I suppose to write a "large cube" leaving alone how large it was. --Paul Wormer 10:08, 27 April 2008 (CDT)

I was going by the Guides to the Royal Institution of Great Britain: 1, by Frank James, which I thought I could rely on (given the author, and the publishing institution :-), which says:
"In 1836 Faraday built a cage, a twelve foot cube covered in metal gauze, for which only the lecture theatre provided the necessary space."
The clear implication of this is that it was 12x12x12. Now, Mr. James could certainly have gotten it wrong...
Looking at it logically, I wonder about the 4x4x4 possibility. In 1836, Faraday would have been 45 - old, but not too old to fit into a 4x4x4 cage. However, it's recorded (I forget the exact source) that he did a number of experiments in there, which were intended to be part of his investigation into the nature of magnetism and electricity - i.e. whether it was a field, or an intangible fluid, or whatever. So he would have wanted to have some experimental apparatus in there too, and be able to work it. 4x4x4 seems a bit small for that - especially as he would have to work crouched over. What would have been the problem with making it 4x4x6, so he could stand up?
On the other hand, 12x12x12 sounds pretty big, a lot bigger than he would have needed. So that doesn't sound too good either.
I have to run an errand, but let me look at the original sources you reference when I get back. J. Noel Chiappa 10:43, 27 April 2008 (CDT)
I tried to find out more about the cube, but failed. I see in your note at the top of the talk page that you had a direct quote:
"a glass tube of about six feet in length was passed through its side, leaving about four feet within and two feet on the outside"
Where did that come from? Does it have more description of the cage? And can you give the entire quotation, because I'd like to know what it was being used for.
I don't think by itself it rules out a larger cage; it could be that the four-foot section which was inside reached only part way in to the cage - e.g. to some experimental apparatus that he had inside. (If so, that would rule out the 4x4x4 cage, of course.) J. Noel Chiappa 13:04, 27 April 2008 (CDT)

Reference to 6 feet glass tube: Note 18 p. 365. But let us skip this and write sizeable cube.--Paul Wormer 10:20, 28 April 2008 (CDT)

OK, will do; the exact size is, as you point out, not very important. J. Noel Chiappa 12:29, 28 April 2008 (CDT)

Spelling Riebau

I omitted purposely the name of Faraday's first boss (for one I didn't find him important enough, and secondly there is confusion about the spelling of his name). I remember that Gladstone spells Riebau, but I cannot check it, Google books doesn't give me access to his book anymore (discrimination against a Dutch IP versus a USA IP?). Noel, you decided differently, but please make sure of the spelling of the name if you insist on including it.--Paul Wormer 10:31, 27 April 2008 (CDT)

Will do. All the sources I saw his name in gave it as Ribeau, IIRC, but that could have just been one person copying another. I'll check, and add a note. J. Noel Chiappa 10:45, 27 April 2008 (CDT)
So I was wrong! The sources almost all give it as Riebau - how I mistakenly read it as 'Ribeau' I'm not sure, but perhaps it was because I knew he was a French emigre (a Huguenot, actually), and assumed it had a French 'eau' ending. I have changed it, and put a note on it mentioning that some people give it as 'Ribeau'.
I am going to leave his name in, because it seems he may have had a considerable impact on Faraday's life. He certainly knew, from early on, that Faraday was something special: here's his own description of something he wrote about Faraday in about 1813:
"account of the Progress of Genius in an Apprentice"
and he appears to have encouraged Faraday in his reading, and gave him time, space in the shop, and encouragement to do his early electrical experiments. He also apparently encouraged Faraday to attend Tatum's lecturs. So, all in all, he appears to have been a significant influence, not just a boss. J. Noel Chiappa 16:21, 27 April 2008 (CDT)

Phases of gas

What do you mean that a gas can exist in more than one phase? A gas (and a liquid too) can be in one phase only. A substance can be in more phases (different solid phases, liquid and gas), but that has been known since the beginning of mankind (think of ice, water, steam), Faraday did not make that clear. --Paul Wormer 10:54, 27 April 2008 (CDT)

I perhaps used the wrong term/wording there, but the reference I was looking at seemed to think it was an important achievement in chemistry, and I was interested in listing his chemical accomplishments (which often get downplayed). Here's exactly what the source I was looked at said:
"In 1823, Faraday succeeding liquifying some of the important gasses, including carbon dioxide and chlorine. This was a major step, for it was not until then clear that a gas could have more than a single state."
I was a little confused by the 'carbon dioxide' thing, because I remembered that solid CO2 sublimates at room temperature, so I left it out (although now that I look, I see you get the liquid at room temp at above about 5 atmospheres - the triple point is at 5.2 atm (3952 torr), at 216.6 K (-56.4 C) - so I guess he did it too.
Anyway, about the 'single state'... First off, I assumed that by 'state', that the writer meant 'phase'. Second, I was dubious, for the exact same reasons you were, because it would have been obvious from the dawn of time that solids could turn into liquids (metals, glasses), and also liquids into gasses (steam - although perhaps people may have thought it came off as really fine droplets). So I could only interpret that remark to mean that before then, it wasn't realized that those substances which were gasses at room temp could also exist in liquid/etc phases.
But now that I investigate this claim in detail, I find this:
"As early as 1799, the gas ammonia was liquefied by being cooled while it was under pressure."
So I don't know what that claim means, or if it is correct, now. (That source is not footnoted, so I don't know where the writer got it. He is, however, a member of the Academy of Sciences, so he's not just some hack writer.)
Maybe Faraday was the first to liquify an elemental gas? J. Noel Chiappa 12:37, 27 April 2008 (CDT)
Well ... chlorine consists of two atoms Cl2, so I would not call it elemental, although indeed only one element is involved. For me the difference with ammonia is non-essential, both are more-atom molecules.--Paul Wormer 10:34, 28 April 2008 (CDT)
Well, we know that now, but I'm not sure if they understood all that then. But anyway...
So is there anything to be said about a broader meaning to his liquifaction of these gasses, or is his only achievement here that he succeeding in liguifying these particular gasses? J. Noel Chiappa 12:29, 28 April 2008 (CDT)


Another topic: I prefer a lead-in to be as factual as possible, i.e., I don't like particularly the likening of Faraday with Moses at this early point in the article (and I'm not sure if I like it at all). --Paul Wormer 10:54, 27 April 2008 (CDT)

I found that in one of the books I was reading, and liked the simile. So it doesn't have to be there, I can reword it to say the same thing without likening him to Moses. J. Noel Chiappa 12:37, 27 April 2008 (CDT)
If you do, shorten the lead-in a bit, please. In my view it should be more abtract-like. I would not miss terribly the following sentences:
in fact, he has been described as the "best experimentalist in the history of science".[2] He himself did not know any advanced mathematics, and as a result he has been likened to Moses, in that he brought the scientific fields he worked in to a place he himself could not enter: an age when advanced mathematics became the language of science.
However, both his contributions to science, and his impact on the world, are nonetheless vast: his scientific discoveries underlie significant areas of modern physics and chemistry, and the technology which evolved from his work is even more widespread'
These sentences would fit appropriately in a closing paragraph giving an appraisal of his work.--Paul Wormer 10:30, 28 April 2008 (CDT)
If I could be sure that everyone who reads this article would read the whole thing, I would agree with you, that that summation would be better at the end. Alas, I'm not sure we can guarantee that!
I hadn't gotten around to deleting the Moses reference yet (I think I might put it in a footnote, because I think it's a nice simile), but when I do, I will try and shorten that a bit. J. Noel Chiappa 12:29, 28 April 2008 (CDT)
The great majority of people who turn here read through the lede and expect that will include our summary. Only a hardy few will work through to the end, so summary should not go there. Richard Jensen 21:02, 28 April 2008 (CDT)

Bank note

You write that being honored by a banknote is a fairly unusual achievement for a scientist!. But it is not completely unusual. Off the top of my head: US had Franklin, Denmark had Oersted, Holland had Huygens, Austria had Schrodinger. (Britain no doubt had Newton as well). A few years ago there was an article in Physics Today about it, somebody collected banknotes with scientists on it, if I remember correctly he had hundreds of different banknotes. [But, apart from that, the note is a nice illustration to the article].--Paul Wormer 11:03, 28 April 2008 (CDT) PS See this private website

You're right; I've since seen a web page with a list of all the banknotes showing scientists. Still, I think it's a little bit unusual to find a scientist on money - it seems like the politicians usually grab those spots for themselves! How about "somewhat unusual achievement"? Is there an even better word than "somewhat"? J. Noel Chiappa 12:29, 28 April 2008 (CDT)
PS: It's definitely a fairly unusual accomplishment for a scientist, because not many scientists get themselves on money! :-) J. Noel Chiappa 12:54, 28 April 2008 (CDT)


Faraday's lighthouse work was not important to science--but it was important to Faraday, to engineers, to seafarers, to Britain, and to CZ readers. He spent 20 years on the lighthouse project and made a major difference. see discussion by engineersRichard Jensen 21:05, 28 April 2008 (CDT)

I agree it's important, and should be written about at some point - I was just out of energy! See my comment above at #Final pre-approval questions. Can it wait until the next revision? J. Noel Chiappa 21:59, 28 April 2008 (CDT)
yes it can go into 2nd edition. Let's get this approved first (scheduled for 4-30).Richard Jensen 22:45, 28 April 2008 (CDT)

More editing issues


Good compromise (Moses to footnote).--Paul Wormer 04:13, 29 April 2008 (CDT)

Minor changes to lede

affiliated --> closely connected; associated --> connected; conjoined --> associated; popularizing --> introducing; added "electrolyte". Joined 2 paragraphs and switched "lack of math knowledge" to end of sentence to better connect with "nonetheless".--Paul Wormer 04:35, 29 April 2008 (CDT)

I'll have to look at the particular wording changes. A lot of them, I spent quite a while with a Thesaurus, trying to find words that had just the right flavour, without repeating the same word over and over again ('connected'). 'Affiliated', for instance, I picked because of its root, Latin for a close family connection. J. Noel Chiappa 14:11, 29 April 2008 (CDT)

Liquefaction of gasses

Mention of chlorine has disappeared from lede. I have now access again to my EB DVD. This gives liquefaction of so-called permanent gasses in the intro (and BTW this EB article does not mention the name Riebau or Faraday's work for Trinity House). --Paul Wormer 04:49, 29 April 2008 (CDT)

I changed around the wording of the gas liguifaction in the lede (and took chlorine out in the process) because of the discussion above, at #Phases of gas; it seemed it wasn't that big an accomplishment? What is a "permanent gas" anyway? It sounds like they are trying to make the same point as the source I quoted in the discussion above. If you can figure out what it is they are both trying to say, I'd be happy to add it back. The lede still does mention liquifaction of gasses, and the main text below mentions some of the specific ones.
As for Riebau, see above at #Spelling Riebau . J. Noel Chiappa 14:11, 29 April 2008 (CDT)

Multiple links

I thought we were only supposed to link to a term once, which is why I had originally taken out all the duplicate links, but I see in reviewing CZ:Article Mechanics Complete#Link the first use only, just to be sure, that in fact there's an exception if "the word or phrase is particularly relevant to the specific point being made". J. Noel Chiappa 14:31, 29 April 2008 (CDT)

Short paragraphs

I generally try to have one major thought/concept in each paragraph, and find it ugly when two very distinct things are united in single paragraph simply to make a paragraph of the 'right' length. But maybe that is just me. J. Noel Chiappa 14:49, 29 April 2008 (CDT)

William Dance

George Dance (Wiliam Dance is his father, BTW - George is the son) was a lifelong friend of Faraday, but the name isn't that important, so I will remove it. The whole Dance clan were members of the RS, and it's actually not clear which of them provided the tickets; the original source says:

Mr. Dance Jr. of Manchester St. who ... requested to let him show [Faraday's notes from Tatum's lecture] to his Father, I did so, and the next day Mr. Dance very kindly gave [Faraday] an Admission ticket to the Royal Institution Albemarle St.'

But it's not really clear which of the Dances (there were quite a few who gave Manchester St. as their address) were the two involved here - or even if it was the idea of the father or the son to give Faraday tickets, and which of the two provided the ticket. J. Noel Chiappa 15:29, 29 April 2008 (CDT)


I worked through the article, making many minor changes, removing the spaces around the em-dashes, and joining a few paragraphs. As I stated several times, I find the article overloaded with a few unnecessary details, but, because this is a Wiki, I accept it. However, IMHO, as an encyclopedia article its length should stay within reasonable limits. Its purpose is not the definitive Faraday biography.

Anyway, I would approve the version of 12:45, 29 April 2008 (or later if somebody else makes some more changes). To me it seems that there is absolutely no urgency in the approval, if it has to be postponed because of bylaw IX sec 3.1 bis, then so be it. --Paul Wormer 07:55, 29 April 2008 (CDT)

PS. What is wrong with the clocks? I finished last comment and latest version within 10 minutes, times are 7:55 and 12:45, respectively. Annoying and confusing.--Paul Wormer 07:58, 29 April 2008 (CDT)

I finished reviewing all this. If it looks, from a group diff, like I made big changes in the 'Fields' section, I didn't; I moved a paragraph boundary, and that produced a lot of red. If you look at the separate edits here and here, it is easier to see the (minor) changes. J. Noel Chiappa 16:38, 29 April 2008 (CDT)

APPROVED Version 1.0

Michael Faraday is Approved... Nice work all, and good example of the collaborative effort. --D. Matt Innis 21:48, 30 April 2008 (CDT)

The Dances

A few points:

  1. We don't know whether it was the father or the son who was the source of the tickets - see the quotation from the original source which I already provided (above).
  2. It is further assumed that it was William (father) and George (son) who are spoken of in that quote, because George Dance was thought to be a friend of Faraday - but we don't know for certain; there were apparently quite a few of them (it was a large clan). (All of the original documents I have seen quoted, not just the one above, refer only to "Mr. Dance", and don't specify which one.)
  3. We don't know for certain which of them actually handed the tickets to Faraday (the quote, strictly speaking, would admit to either); it is assumed to be the son, who is thought to have been a customer at Riebau's shop, but that is not certain.
  4. According to James Hamilton, A Life of Discovery, page 13, "All the Dances were members of the Royal Institution".

I hope this is sufficent information about the Dances. J. Noel Chiappa 13:49, 3 May 2008 (CDT)

OK. As far as I remember I had my info about Dance jr and sr from Gribbin (I don't have the book here at the moment, so I cannot check it). But I have seen some errors of Gribbin, which is why I don't trust him a 100%, so I accept your info. --Paul Wormer 02:38, 4 May 2008 (CDT)

Source of electricity

IMHO the most serious remaining problem with the approved version is that it states that the Volta pile (battery) was the only source of electricity in Faraday's time. Before 1800 (the year of its invention) lots of research (Benjamin Franklin, van Musschenbroek with his Leyden jar, Galvani, etc.) was done on electricity. The source of electricity was basically an advanced form of rubbing cat's fur against glass. --Paul Wormer 02:38, 4 May 2008 (CDT)

That was just a silly error on my part; since electrical engineers almost never work with static electricity, I tend to always think of electricity as 'current', and so almost always forget about static electricity! (Of course, connect a source of static charge to something else which is at a different potential, and you will get a current, albeit a very brief one. I forget whether the current/voltage decay is exponential or not - too lazy to derive the exact equation! Not to mention that it's been years since I did anything with differential equations! :-) J. Noel Chiappa 16:05, 4 May 2008 (CDT)

Michael Faraday on WP

Since we have a rather extensive article on M.F. I looked at the WP history of the M.F. article to see if someone copied from us. From 29 April until 13 May the WP article underwent 30 edits (on average two edits a day). Almost all of them were vandalism--some of them very extensive--followed by correction. Nobody copied from us. When I see these edits and think of the fact that I naively could have contributed to the WP article, I shiver and get goose pimples.--Paul Wormer 03:36, 14 May 2008 (CDT)

The amount of vandalism at WP boggles me (their version archives must be 95% garbage at this point) - but what boggles me even more is their continued refusal to concede that an ideology which may have been correct when it was small is still the correct ideology now that it's very big. Why they continue to let anons edit (the vast majority of vandalism is from anons) is just totally incomprehensible. I mean, it's not like you can tell from a Wikipedia account who it is IRL in real life, unless they chose to make that public. So accounts are effectively anonymous anyway... J. Noel Chiappa 09:05, 14 May 2008 (CDT)