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April 16, 2014

engineeringhistory:

Michael Faraday’s interaction with the Thames, as depicted in response to his letter “Observations on the Filth of the Thames”, Punch, 1855. Faraday was a pioneer in many areas of electromagnetism and chemistry, and was deeply concerned about the polluted state of the Thames. He wrote of the river: “The appearance and the smell of the water forced themselves at once on my attention. The whole of the river was an opaque pale brown fluid. In order to test the degree of opacity, I tore up some white cards into pieces, moistened them so as to make them sink easily below the surface, and then dropped some of these pieces into the water at every pier the boat came to; before they had sunk an inch below the surface they were indistinguishable, though the sun shone brightly at the time; and when the pieces fell edgeways the lower part was hidden from sight before the upper part was under water.”

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