On this day in 1791, Michael Faraday, a renowned English physical chemist and popularizer of science, was born. Faraday is considered the most brilliant experimentalist of the 1800s for his important discoveries about the fundamental nature of magnetism, electricity, and light. Faraday's basic laws of electrolysis, put forth in 1834, established the link between electricity and chemical reactions. Faraday is also credited with the discovery of electromagnetic induction--the basis of the electric motor--and the transformer, and with building the first electric generator. In 1846 he came up with a bold new electromagnetic theory of light that set the stage for further revelations by Albert Einstein.
[Source: Roy Porter, Ed., The Biographical Dictionary of Scientists (Oxford University Press, ed. 2, 1994).]