portrait of Michael Faraday

He was from a poor family and had little education as a child, but Michael Faraday became one of the world’s most famous and renowned scientists.


Faraday, the Modern Way

People use Faraday cages for a wide array of purposes -- sometimes in esoteric lab settings, other times in common products. Your car, for example, is basically a Faraday cage. It's the cage's effect, not the rubber tires, that protects you in case of a nearby lightning strike.

A lot of buildings act as Faraday cages, too, if only by accident. With their plaster or concrete walls strewn with metal rebar or wire mesh, they often wreak havoc with wireless Internet networks and cellphone signals.

But the shielding effect most often benefits humankind. Microwave ovens reverse the effect, trapping waves within a cage and quickly cooking your food. Screened TV cables help to maintain a crisp, clear image by reducing interference.

Power utility linemen often wear specially made suits that exploit the Faraday cage concept. Within these suits, the linemen can work on high-voltage power lines with a much-reduced risk of electrocution.

Governments can protect vital telecommunications equipment from lightning strikes and other electromagnetic interference by building Faraday cages around them. Science labs at universities and corporations employ advanced Faraday cages to completely exclude all external electric charges and electromagnetic radiation to create a totally neutral testing environment for all sorts of experiments and product development.

Intrigued? Keep reading, and you'll see other wild ways this simple cage effect is put to use for sophisticated purposes.