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Michael Faraday's 'Chemical Notes, Hints, Suggestions and Objects of Pursuit' of 1822 [electronic resource] / R.D. Tweney and D. Gooding (eds.)
Stevenage IET 1991
book jacket
Location Call Number Status
 Electronic Book  WEB LINK    AVAIL. VIA WEB
Subject Faraday, Michael
Subject(s) Chemistry
Chemistry -- England -- History -- 19th century
Physical Description 172
Summary The notebook that we are publishing here is a remarkable document. Kept by one of the major scientists of the nineteenth century, at a time when he had made his first important discoveries and was preparing for those major findings that would propel him into the very first ranks, it is a window into the thoughts of a scientific genius and, at the same time, a revealing portrait of the culture and community of a new century in the history of science. In 1822, when the notebook was in use, Michael Faraday (1791-1867) was employed to assist Sir Humphry Davy and W. T. Brande in the Laboratories of the Royal Institution in London's Albemarle Street. He was also the assistant 'superintendent' or manager of the 'House'. His comment suggests that he found this notebook more useful than his previous notebooks had been. Indeed, as even the casual reader will soon discover, it is a remarkable notebook. At first sight it could seem a modest effort, almost a list of topics with the occasional suggested experiment thrown in. One cannot always judge importance by size, however, and it is our belief that the 1822 notebook, modest though it seems, contains insights for us that are not to be had from the later diaries. Faraday must have thought so too, as his title page comment indicates. Was he simply restating an old cliche, that notebooks were useful to all scientists? We think not, because his comment refers to 'such a collection.' He has singled out something about this one that makes it particularly useful and that he recommends to others. This demands that we pay close attention to exactly what sort of notebook this is. It is not a diary; the organization is topical not chronological. It is more like an 'idea-book,' a place to keep suggestions and puzzles for later work, rather than a record of things done. It is the last existing notebook Faraday designed to have a prearranged topical outline; later, as we show below, he switched to a more diary-like format, eventually incorporating an interesting 'addressing' scheme rather than outline formats. In the present case, however, the existence of the outline format suggests that he used the book in a back-and-forth, more or less parallel fashion rather than as a serial record. It is a delineation of parallel enterprises, not sequential ones. This attempt to articulate parallel research programmes probably reflects Faraday's new confidence as an independent researcher, resulting from his discovery, in September 1821, that an electric current can be made to rotate continuously about a magnet. This one contains only plans for his own work and occasional annotations indicating when a project has been attempted or completed. We have tried to make Faraday's insights and his plans accessible by transcribing the entire notebook, together with enough supporting critical apparatus, including a glossary, to enable a modern reader to appreciate the qualities of imagination and the historical context of one of the greatest scientists of the nineteenth century. Our introduction provides a brief biographical sketch and a detailed description of the notebook itself. We go on to suggest some interpretations of the content of the notebook and to sketch its importance in the larger scheme of Faraday's almost life-long habit of keeping extensive notes. Finally, we indicate the principles followed in transcribing the notebook, and preparing it for publication. The main body of this book is, of course, the reproduction and transcription, found on pages 2 to 109. At the end, we have provided the glossary (built along rather unusual lines) and an index, to facilitate the reader's own understanding and interpretive activity
Series History of technology series
Alternate Author Faraday, Michael

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