The Age of Science
Michael Faraday 1791-1867
Michael Faraday was born in Newington Butts, now part of the London Borough of Southwark; where my ancestors come from. It was then a part of Surrey, one mile south of London Bridge.
His family was not well off. James Faraday moved his wife and two children to London during the winter of 1790-1 from Westmorland, where he had been an apprentice to the village blacksmith.
Michael was born the autumn of that year. The young Michael Faraday, the third of four children, having only the most basic of school educations, had to largely educate himself.
At fourteen he became apprenticed to a local bookbinder and bookseller and during his seven-year apprenticeship, he read many books, including Isaac Watts' The Improvement of the Mind, and he enthusiastically implemented the principles and suggestions that it contained.
He developed an interest in science, especially in electricity. In particular, he was inspired by the book Conversations on Chemistry by Jane Marcet 149
In 1812, Faraday attended four lectures given by Humphrey Davy at the Royal Institution. More famous for his work on electro magnetism and capacitance Faraday was eventually appointed as Davey's assistant at the Royal Institution.
It was here he also got involved in the research into nitrous oxide and had done comparative studies along with sulphuric ether, he did write to the science and arts journal and stated when the vapour of ether is mixed with common air, and is then inhaled, it produces effects very similar to those occasioned by nitrous oxide.
It was in essence a missed opportunity by Faraday to pursue this comparison study further.
Antoine-Laurent de Lavoisier(1743-1794)
Antoine-Laurent de Lavoisier determined the true nature of Oxygen. In 1785, Lavoisier had worked out the proportions of the gases of air which were present in the atmosphere. The revolution changed the face of France, some for good and in the case of this scientist, bad. Soon after the revolution began, Jean-Paul Marat and other radical journalists began to slander Lavoisier for being a member of the Farmer's General. 150
In November 1793, after a one sided trial by jury. Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier, along with his father-in-law and others, were found guilty of conspiracy against the people of France. In this trial that lasted less than a day, all of them were convicted and sentenced to execution. When Lavoisier requested time to complete some scientific work, the presiding judge was said to have answered:
"The Republic has no need of scientists."
He was guillotined on May 8, 1794. It has been said that at the time of his execution, he blinked at the time of the guillotine striking his neck and carried on blinking for 15 seconds as a prearranged experiment to determine how long you were aware of your surroundings. His body was thrown into a common grave.
It can be said with great certainty, that the execution of this great chemist was a loss not only to French science, but to World science.
At this period in history, scientists were using ether for many different things but not as an anaesthetic agent.
“The five essential entrepreneurial skills for success are concentration, discrimination, organization, innovation and communication.” 151