History of Science Museum: Collection Database Search


Inv. 47759 - Michael Faraday and the lodestone

Email from Giles Hudson 5/2/08:
"I recently came across an interesting anecdote that I did not know, and that may interest you, if you do not already know it: namely that at the 1832 BAAS meeting in Oxford Faraday 'elicited a spark from a magnet' using 'the large natural magnet in the Ashmolean Museum'. See History of the University of Oxford, 19th Century Part I, p. 18. I presume this is Countess of Westmorland's magnet. There is no mention of this in any of the documentation associated with the magnet, as far as I can see."
Update 27/3/2020:
The source for this anecdote, whose point is social rather than scientific, is John Tyndall, Faraday as a Discoverer (1868), p. 32 - see https://play.google.com/books/reader?id=-NJGAAAAIAAJ&hl=en_GB&pg=GBS.PA32. Tyndall quotes it verbatim from a friend as an 'exquisite morsel'. The friend had either been present at Faraday's demonstration or knew those who had, because the punchline differs from the account that apparently appeared in 'one of the Oxford papers'. This latter source has not been traced: Jackson's Oxford Journal reported on the BAAS meeting on 23 and 30 June 1832 in exclusively formal and celebratory tones. Perhaps the story appeared in a satirical or more informal source?

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