Friday, July 24, 2009

Michael Faraday is Still Right

Michael Faraday was a smart man. He revolutionized our understanding of electricity and magnetism - forces that almost magically seem to work at a distance. Every now and then I still stop to stare at the magnets on the white-board in my office.

There are, however, other uses for Faraday's work. Anybody that's ever taken an Electrostatics class has heard of a Faraday cage. If you enclose a volume in a highly conductive material (almost any metal will do) no matter what electric field you apply to the outside of the box the inside of the box will have a floating voltage but no gradient in the electric potential across the box. No internal electric fields equates to no currents and no danger to whatever is inside the Faraday cage. This can be used to prepare your home electronics for the apocalypse, but there are other, more practical uses:

Everybody now owes Michael Faraday $5.

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