The Chemical History of a Candle by Michael Faraday

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Frank James, Faraday's successor at the Royal Institution, has written an introduction that will be useful to those curious about the origins and reception of this classic text...
-WSJ online


One of the greatest experimental scientists of all time, Michael Faraday (1791–1867) developed the first electric motor, electric generator, and dynamo — essentially creating the science of electrochemistry. This book, the result of six lectures he delivered to young students at London’s Royal Institution, concerns another form of energy — candlelight.
Faraday titled the lectures "The Chemical History of a Candle," choosing the subject because, as he explained, "There is not a law under which any part of this universe is governed which does not come into play and is not touched upon [during the time a candle burns]."
That statement is the foundation for a book that describes, with great clarity, the components, function and weight of the atmosphere; the function of a candle wick; capillary attraction; the carbon content in oxygen and living bodies; the production of carbon dioxide from coal gas and sugar; the properties of carbonic acid; respiration and its analogy to the burning of a candle; and much more. There is also a chapter comprising Faraday's "Lecture on Platinum."
A useful classroom teaching tool, this classic text will also appeal to a wide audience interested in scientific inquiry.


About Michael Faraday

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Michael Faraday, a British physicist and chemist, was one of the greatest experimentalists of the nineteenth century. The son of a blacksmith, Faraday received a minimal education, which did not include much training in mathematics. Nevertheless, in 1812 his innate intelligence attracted the attention of Sir Humphry Davy at the Royal Institution. Davy hired Faraday as a laboratory assistant in the institution; Faraday remained until his retirement in 1862. Here, he made his contributions to the study of electricity by formulating the laws of electrolysis in 1834. Faraday also discovered that the circular lines of magnetic force produced by the flow of current through a wire deflect a nearby compass needle. By demonstrating this conversion of electrical energy into motive force, Faraday identified the basic principles governing the application of the electric motor. Simultaneously with Joseph Henry, Faraday discovered electromagnetic induction and then successfully built the first electric generator based on a suggestion from Scottish mathematician and physicist Lord William Thomson Kelvin. After a series of experiments using polarized light, Faraday proposed an electromagnetic theory of light. This theory was later developed by James Clerk Maxwell and was fundamental to the later development of physics. Faraday was widely known as a popularizer of science, regularly lecturing to lay audiences from 1825 to 1862. Faraday was an extremely modest person. For example, he declined honors bestowed in recognition of his accomplishments, such as a knighthood and the presidency of the Royal Society.
Published June 17, 2004 by Kessinger Publishing, LLC. 64 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, Science & Math, Professional & Technical, History, Education & Reference, Nature & Wildlife, Sports & Outdoors. Non-fiction
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Reviewed by Peter Pesic on Jan 07 2012

Frank James, Faraday's successor at the Royal Institution, has written an introduction that will be useful to those curious about the origins and reception of this classic text...

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