|Michael Faraday chemistry|
- Michael Faraday knew
- electrolysis carried some kind of particle
- to one electrode or the another.
- His friend William Whewell
- suggested naming this kind of particle “ion,”
- Greek for the verb meaning going.
- Normally, in an atom, each proton,
- which has a positive electric charge,
- is exactly balanced by an electron,
- which has a negative electric charge.
- If an atom has more electrons
- than protons, it has a net negative charge.
- It’s attracted to the anode of a battery,
- so Faraday called this an “anion.”
- If an atom has fewer electrons
- than protons, it has a net positive charge.
- It’s attracted to the cathode of a battery,
- so Faraday called this a “cation.”
- During electrolysis, a substance
- is dissolved by a solvent, which produces either
- anions attracted to the positive anode
- or cations attracted to the negative cathode.
- Transient and fragile particles
- and any extra electrons
- are detected by a Faraday cup
- as they exit the target end
- of a particle accelerator.
- These devices are finely tuned
- to show single elementary electric charges
- each about 1.602
- times 10 to the minus 19 coulombs.
- Faraday didn’t invent the Faraday cup,
- but he explained that electrolysis moves ions
- and observed that ions of the same charge
- repel each other.
- I have the spring and clockwork
- of a four-wheeled toy that I wind up,
- set on the floor, and let go—
- instant joy, simple as going.
- But when a good friend dies,
- it’s hard not to refuse
- the pleasures of this world—
- too fragile, too temporary.