By Derek Cheung, Eric Brach
Conquering the Electron bargains readers a real and fascinating background of the realm of electronics.
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Additional resources for Conquering the Electron: The Geniuses, Visionaries, Egomaniacs, and Scoundrels Who Built Our Electronic Age
But in 1862, not long after the fledgling outset of his professorial career, Britain’s Royal Society, with the recommendation of Prof. Thomson, commissioned the thirty-one-year-old Maxwell to attempt to unify the basic units of electromagnetism. Maxwell’s first step was to call on the master: the now-seventy-year-old Faraday. Faraday shared all his thoughts with the young man, and he hoped that someday the young math genius would be able to put all the pieces in perfect order. Maxwell combined Faraday’s insights with the ideas of Ampère, Gauss, Lord Kelvin, and numerous other scientists.
However, the technical challenge proved difficult, and for a long time, his experiments failed. At last, in 1831, when Faraday was in the process of inserting a magnet into a coil of wire, he noticed that an indicating needle on a meter measuring the current in the coil appeared to move ever so slightly before returning to its original position. Almost by accident but thanks to his keen observation, Faraday discovered that when a magnet and a coil of wire move with respect to one another, this motion produces an electric current in the wire—in other words, that kinetic energy of motion could be converted into electric energy.
During the development of quantum mechanics in the 1920s, more fundamental understanding on electromagnetic waves was reached. The waves can be viewed as made up of clusters of almost mass-less particles, known as “photons,” and the energy of each photon is proportional to the frequency of the wave. So extremely high frequency or short wavelength electromagnetic waves such as X-rays have higher energy (not to be confused with power, which refers to the intensity) and can cause damage to the body.