In February, ten second-year TASIS AP Physics students took a field trip to the Royal Institution in London. There, on August 29, 1831, Michael Faraday discovered his law of electromagnetic induction, which is the basis for the generation of electricity. Thus that date is considered by many the birth of the electrical age.
The group was lucky enough to have Professor Frank James, RI's historian, guiding and relaying a history that spans the American Revolution, Colonialism, the miner's safety lab, and x-ray diffraction, in addition to all of Faraday's work in physics and chemistry. Having edited all of Faraday's correspondence and written a book on him, he is perhaps the person who knows him best today, and we are very grateful for the time he spent with us.
The RI is known as the place where ten elements were first discovered or isolated, as well as for important x-ray crystallography work. It is also famous for popular science lectures for the public, including the RI Christmas Lectures, which are still given annually to schoolchildren. In fact, the popularity of its lectures with the public forced officials to make Albemarle Street the first one way street in London in the early 1800s to alleviate the horse and buggy congestion. It was a fabulous day out and great to see the actual place, lab notebooks, and apparatus used in the discovery of the hugely important effects the students had just learned.