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[Letter] 1853 June 23 [to] [London Times]

Author: Michael Faraday
Publisher: 1853.
Edition/Format:   Print book : Manuscript   Archival Material : English
Summary:
Faraday writes regarding the spiritualist phenomenon of table-turning occuring during seances in which Victorian believers sought to communicate with their dead. Faraday declares himself "greatly startled by the revelation which this purely physical subject has made of the condition of the public mind. Mesmerists saw Faraday's discovery of diamagnetism as an important breakthrough, and when table-turning and  Read more...
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Details

Genre/Form: Records and correspondence
Correspondence
Named Person: Michael Faraday; Times; Michael Faraday
Material Type: Manuscript, Internet resource
Document Type: Book, Archival Material, Internet Resource
All Authors / Contributors: Michael Faraday
OCLC Number: 919622552
Notes: Accompanying this letter are three documents supplying information about its provenance, generated by C.C. Bidwell, a physicist at Lehigh. Bidwell maintains in his documentation that the letter was given to Lehigh by Metallurgy graduate student William C. Schultz whose father received the letter as a gift from his interpreter when he was doing engineering work in Leningrad, Russia in 1931. Bidwell has also written to Duane Roller, editor of the American Journal of Physics about the letter's reappearance, and has transcribed a passage from Bence Jones' collection of Faraday's correspondence. See also additional letters in the collection from Faraday.
Description: 1 unnumbered leaf
Responsibility: M[ichael] Faraday.

Abstract:

Faraday writes regarding the spiritualist phenomenon of table-turning occuring during seances in which Victorian believers sought to communicate with their dead. Faraday declares himself "greatly startled by the revelation which this purely physical subject has made of the condition of the public mind. Mesmerists saw Faraday's discovery of diamagnetism as an important breakthrough, and when table-turning and spiritualism became popular in the early 1850s, Faraday wrote this letter to the Times (published June 30) to discredit the phenomenon and expalin it in scientific, rather than spiritual, terms. He published a longer letter in the Athenaeum the following week (July 2). In the wake of angry letters from table turners, Faraday and Henry Bence Jones organized a lecture series following up on the points Faraday made in his article; Prince Albert attended two of these lectures. A philosopher as well as a scientist, Faraday experimented with electricity, chemistry, radiation, and physics. Sir Humphrey Davy, whose influence secured Faraday his first position as a laboratory assistant at the Royal Institution, was his mentor, and his contemporary John Tyndall (whose work, along with Davy's, is also represented in the collection) wrote Faraday's biography in 1872. Faraday became director of the laboratory in the Royal Institution in 1825 where he devised a lecture series, taught chemistry at the Royal Military Academy in Woolwich, became a fellow of the Royal Society as well as a scientific adviser to the Corporation of Trinity House, and his portrait appears on the Bank of England's twenty-pound note.

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