Forget ‘A Christmas Carol,’ Char…

Forget ‘A Christmas Carol,’ Charles Dickens And Michael Faraday Created ‘A Chemistry Carol’

“In those days, well before the age of mimeographing, photocopying, and electronic printing, lecture notes were almost never duplicated, unless they were actually published by a professional printer. Nevertheless, Faraday generously lent Dickens his original notes. Dickens would write to Faraday several more times, and was immensely grateful for their correspondence. In gratitude, he would send Faraday a copy of David Copperfield when it was published.”

These days, there are a plethora of writers and science popularizers who attempt to break down the barriers between everyday phenomena and the physical laws that underlie them. But centuries ago, this was much rarer. Yet back in the mid-1800s, Michael Faraday, the legendary physicist who discovered electromagnetic induction, began delivering a popular lecture every Christmas, attempting to do exactly that. After 25 years of this, Charles Dickens contacted him, with the idea of crafting short stories based on his notes, designed to communicate science to the general public. In 1850, a slew of these stories went live in Dickens’ weekly publication, Household Words. While most of us are familiar with Dickens’ epic works, such as ‘A Christmas Carol,’ it’s far less well-known that he wrote ‘Chemistry Carols’ just as prolifically!

Come learn about this historical curiosity, courtesy of Paul Halpern, and find a new way to get your science on this holiday season!