Discovering discovery: How faraday found the first metallic colloid

Perspectives on Science 14 (1):97-121 (2006)
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Abstract

: In 1856, Michael Faraday (1791–1867) conducted nearly a year's worth of research on the optical properties of gold, in the course of which he discovered the first metallic colloids. Following our own discovery of hundreds of the specimens prepared by Faraday for this research, the present paper describes the cognitive role of these "epistemic artifacts" in the dynamics of Faraday's research practices. Analysis of the specimens, Faraday's Diary records, and replications of selected procedures (partly to replace missing kinds of specimens and partly to understand the "tacit knowledge" implicated in Faraday's research) are outlined, and a reconstruction of the events surrounding the initial discovery of metallic colloids is presented

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Ryan Tweney
Bowling Green State University

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