The Physics
Opus in profectus

Faraday's Law

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What's the right way to divide these sections up?

Motional emf (electromotive force)

ℰ = Bℓv

Electromagnetic induction and emf

 = − ∆ΦB
ℰ = − dΦB

A more advanced form written as an bunch of integrals

E · ds = − ∂ΦB

A more advanced form written as a bunch of derivatives

∇ × E = − B

Lenz' law: Induced current flows in the direction that opposes the change that created it.


During top level geomagnetic storms (G5 out of 5) pipeline currents can reach hundreds of amps. On average these occur 4 times every 11 year solar cycle and last about 4 days each.

A generator is a backward motor.

A dynamic microphone is a backward speaker.

Microphones and how they work
type sounds produce
changes in…
which cause
changes in…
which result in
changes in…
carbon granule density resis­tance voltage
condenser plate separation capaci­tance voltage
dynamic coil location flux voltage
piezo­electric compression polari­zation voltage


Faraday quote

Entry from Faraday's lab notebook dated 29 August 1931 as quoted in The Life and Letters of Faraday by Bence Jones. Philadelphia: Lippicott (1870): Vol. II, Page 2.

I have had an iron ring made (soft iron), iron round and ⅞ths of an inch thick, and ring six inches in external diameter. Wound many coils of copper round, one-half of the coils being separated by twine and calico; there were three lengths of wire, each about twenty-four feet long, and they could be connected as one length, or used as separate lengths. By trials with a trough each was insulated from the other. Will call this side of the ring a. On the other side, but separated by an interval, was wound wire in two pieces, together amounting to about sixty feet in length, the direction being as with the former coils. This side call b.

Charged a battery of ten pairs of plates four inches square. Made the coil on b side one coil, and connected its extremities by a copper wire passing to a distance, and just over a magnetic needle (three feet from wire ring), then connected the ends of one of the pieces on a side with battery: immediately a sensible effect on needle. It oscillated and settled at last in original position. On breaking connection of a side with battery, again a disturbance of the needle.

More Faraday quotes

Philosophical Transactions, 1832, 122: 125-62 V. Experimental Researches in Electricity. By Michael Faraday, F.R.S., M.R.I., Corr. Mem. Royal Acad. of Sciences of Paris, Petersburgh, &c. &c. Read November 24, 1831.

[mutual induction] 10. Two hundred and three feet of copper wire in one length were passed round a large block of wood; other two hundred and three feet of similar wire were interposed as a spiral between the turns of the first, and metallic contact everywhere prevented by twine. One of these helices was connected with a galvanometer, and the other with a battery of one hundred pairs of plates four inches square, with double coppers, and well charged. When the contact was made, there was a sudden and very slight effect at the galvanometer, and there was also a similar slight effect when the contact with the battery was broken. But whilst the voltaic current was continuing to pass through the one helix, no galvanometrical appearances of any effect like induction upon the other helix could be perceived, although the active power of the battery was proved to be great, by its heating the whole of its own helix, and by the brilliancy of the discharge when made through charcoal.

[motional emf] 18. In the preceding experiments the wires were placed near to each other, and the contact of the inducing one with the battery made when the inductive effect was required; but as some particular action might be supposed to he exerted at the moments of making and breaking contact, the induction was produced in another way. Several feet of copper wire were stretched in wide zigzag forms, representing the letter W, on one surface of a broad board; a second wire was stretched in precisely similar forms on a second board, so that when brought near the first, the wires should everywhere touch, except that a sheet of thick paper was interposed. One of these wires was connected with the galvanometer, and the other with a voltaic battery. The first wire was then moved towards the second, and as it approached, the needle was deflected. Being then removed, the needle was deflected in the opposite direction. By first making the wires approach and then recede, simultaneously with the vibrations of the needle, the latter soon became very extensive; but when the wires ceased to move from or towards each other, the galvanometer needle soon came to its usual position.

[iron core electromagnet] 34. Another arrangement was then used connecting the former experiments on volta-electric induction with the present. A combination of helices like that already described (6.) was constructed upon a hollow cylinder of pasteboard: there were eight lengths of copper wire, containing altogether 220 feet; four of these helices were connected end to end, and then with the galvanometer (7.); the other intervening four were also connected, end to end, and the battery of one hundred pairs discharged through them. In this form the effect on the galvanometer was hardly sensible (11.), but magnets could be made by the induced current (13.). But when a soft iron cylinder seven eighths of an inch thick, and twelve inches long, was introduced into the pasteboard tube; surrounded by the helices, then the induced current affected the galvanometer powerfully, and with all the phenomena just described (30.). It possessed also the power of making magnets with more energy, apparently, than when no iron cylinder was present.

35. When the iron cylinder was replaced by an equal cylinder of copper, no effect beyond that of the helices alone was produced. The iron cylinder arrangement was not so powerful as the ring arrangement already described (27.).

[motional emf] 36. Similar effects were then produced by ordinary magnets: thus the hollow helix just described (34.) had all its elementary helices connected with the galvanometer by two copper wires, each five feet in length; the soft iron cylinder was introduced into its axis; a couple of bar magnet; each twenty-four inches long, were arranged with their opposite poles at one end in contact, so as to resemble a horse-shoe magnet, and then contact made between the other poles and the ends of the iron cylinder, so as to convert it for the time into a magnet (fig.2.): by breaking the magnetic contacts, or reversing them, the magnetism of the iron cylinder could be destroyed or reversed at pleasure.

37. Upon making magnetic contact, the needle was deflected; continuing the contact, the needle became indifferent, and resumed its first position; on breaking the contact, it was again deflected, but in the opposite direction to the first effect, and then it again became indifferent When the magnetic contacts were reversed, the deflections were reversed.

38. When the magnetic contact was made, the deflection was such as to indicate an induced current of electricity in the opposite direction to that fitted to form a magnet having the same polarity as that really produced by contact with the bar magnets. Thus when the marked and unmarked poles were placed as in fig.3, the current in the helix was in the direction represented, P being supposed to be the end of the wire going to the positive pole of the battery, or that end towards which the zinc plates face, and N the negative wire. Such a current would have converted the cylinder into a magnet of the opposite kind to that formed by contact with the poles A and B; and such a current moves in the opposite direction to the currents whet in M. Ampere's beautiful theory are considered as constituting a magnet in the position figured.

39. But as it might be supposed that in all the preceding experiment of this section it was by some peculiar effect taking place during the formation of the magnet, and not by its mere virtual approximation, that the momentary induced current was excited, the following experiment was made. All the similar ends of the compound hollow helix (34.) were bound together by copper wire, forming two general terminations, and these were connected with the galvanometer. The soft iron cylinder (34.) was removed, and a cylindrical magnet, three quarters of an inch in diameter and eight inches and a half in length, used instead. One end of this magnet was introduced into the axis of the helix (fig.4.), and then, the galvanometer-needle being stationary, the magnet was suddenly thrust in; immediately the needle was deflected in the same direction as if the magnet had been formed by either of the two preceding processes (34. 36.). Being left in, the needle resumed its first position, and then the magnet being withdrawn the needle was deflected in the opposite direction. These effects were not great; but by introducing and withdrawing the magnet, so that the impulse each time should be added to those previously communicated to the needle, the latter could be made to vibrate through an arc of 180° or more.

40. In this experiment the magnet must not be passed entirely through the helix, for then a second action occurs. When the magnet is introduced, the needle at the galvanometer is deflected in a certain direction; but being in, whether it be pushed quite through or withdrawn, the needle is deflected in a direction the reverse of that previously produced. When the magnet is passed in and through at one continuous motion, the needle moves one way, is then suddenly stopped, and finally moves the other way.