Joseph Henry Essays

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Joseph Henry

     Joseph Henry lived from 1797 to 1878. Of Scottish decent, Henry was a son of a day laborer in Albany, New York. He was sent to live with his grandmother as a small boy in a village about 40 miles from Albany. At the age of thirteen, be became apprenticed to a watchmaker. He then became interested in theatre and was offered employment as a professional actor, but instead he attended Albany Academy where he was provided with free tuition. He has always been interested in science and by 1823 his education was very far advanced that he was assisting the teaching of science courses. By 1826, after a shift as a district schoolteacher and as a private tutor, he was appointed Professor of Mathematics
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If a current is flowing, self-inductance tends to keep it from building up. Henry found that self-inductance is greatly affected by the configuration of the circuit, especially the coiling of the wire. He also discovered how to make non-inductive windings by folding the wire back on itself.
     At the same time Henry was doing all this, another physicist, Michael Faraday was doing similar work in England. Henry was slow in publishing his results and was unaware of Faraday’s work, therefore Faraday is recognized as the discoverer of mutual inductance, which is the basis of transformers, while Henry is only accredited for the discovery of self-inductance.
     At the age of 35, Yale’s geologist, Benjamin Silliman, was consulted regarding the possible appointment of Henry to Princeton. Silliman's response was negative in saying that Henry has no superior in our country, and Henry, who was modest, defended the fact that he never graduated any colleges and he is principally self-educated. Henry therefore got the job. His initial salary at Princeton was $1,000 per annum plus a house. The Trustees also provided for $100 for the purchase of a new electrical machine. At Princeton, Henry worked with his brother-in-law, Stephen Alexander, in the observation of sunspots and continued his own
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