Faraday Watched As Davy Revolutionized Chemistry
At the time that Faraday joined Davy, we know that Davy was already in the process of figuring out major things in the world of chemistry. He was revolutionizing it, meaning Michael Faraday could learn to do the same. While the founder of modern chemistry, Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier, laid out all he knew from the 1770s to 1780s, he could not know what was to come. Since one cannot know what they could not know, it took Davy & Faraday to change things up.
Lavoisier would insist on a few main principles in his work. Oxygen was a unique element and it was the only supporter of combustion. It was also the element that lay at the basis of all acids. Yet Davy managed to discover sodium & potassium when he decomposed oxides of the elements and came up with muriatic acid (also known as hydrochloric acid). He found hydrogen when connected with water, produced acid. Davy found that the gas was an element, giving it the name “chlorine.”
No oxygen was involved in muriatic acid. Thus, he found that acidity was not the result of the presence of acid-forming elements but some other condition. It was the physical form of the acid molecule itself. Chemical properties here were not determined by specific elements, but also in the way the elements were arranged in molecules. This Atomic Theory concept managed to spark the curiosity as well as the ideology behind what Faraday would come up with later on.