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In Faraday's Footsteps

Using images, specimens and demonstrations Ryan will form a foundation for a cognitive sketch of some of Faraday’s investigative pathways.

Michael Faraday first characterised the suspension of finely-divided gold in aqueous and other media; what would later be called a ‘colloid’. Analysis of his research diaries and hundreds of specimens recently found here in the Ri’s archives illuminates the means by which he explored this domain and suggests explanations for his successful discovery. Replication of some of his procedures helps to understand how his changing cognitive representations of the nature of matter, force and light intersected to enable his new insights. Since Faraday’s time colloid physics and chemistry has been progressing steadily, and much learned under this banner has re-emerged in nanoscience. Faraday was ahead of his time, and his initial discoveries and observations on colloids still apply, although the techniques and equipment used to characterise the materials have changed dramatically. Using images, specimens and demonstrations Ryan will forma foundation for a cognitive sketch of some of Faraday’s investigative pathways. Andy will bring things bang up-to-date with his account of how research scientists based here are following in Faraday’s footsteps with research into colloidal germanium; a material that may emit light as a colloid but not in its natural state.

Andrew Pugsley is a PhD student at the Ri, where he is undertaking a research project to prepare and investigate nano-sized particles of silicon and germanium.

Ryan D Tweney is Emeritus Professor of Psychology at Wayne State University. His work on the nature of scientific thinking has resulted in many publications including a number of cognitive-historical analyses of the diaries of Michael Faraday. In recent years, he has centred his research on cognitive replications of Faraday’s laboratory procedures.


Andrew Pugsley | talks
Prof Ryan Tweney | talks


Date and Time:

3 October 2005 at 7:00 pm


2 hours



The Royal Institution of Great Britain
21 Albemarle Street
020 7409 2992

More at The Royal Institution of Great Britain...



£8, £5 for Ri Members and concessions

Available from:

www.rigb.org or phone 020 7409 2992

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