Meet: Robert Boyle "Father Chemistry" robertboyle.jpeg

Biography:


Robert Boyle was born and raised in County Waterford, Ireland. He was born on January 25, 1627 at Lismore Castle. Being the youngest of fourteen, it was hard to get a lot of recognition for his accomplishments. Even though he did not get much attention, he still was given a phenomenal education. At a very young age he started tutoring, and he mastered French and Latin at the age of eight, and after that spent several years with a tutor.

In 1644, at age 17, he returned to England where he first started doing his experiments. When he wasn't in England, he was in Ireland watching over his house and experimenting in physiology. While he was in Ireland, he joined the Invisible College of London and Oxford, which was where a small group of people met every once and a while to discuss new scientific subjects. King Charles II, in 1660, gave the society a charter, and it was later reorganized as the Royal Society of London for the Promotion of Natural Knowledge. Boyle was apart of the first council, which is one of the oldest scientific societies on the world. In that council was where he first showed a big interest in science and mathematics.



In 1655, Boyle moved to Oxford. There, Robert Hooke assisted him in his experiments. With Hooke’s assistance, he invented and built an air pump. By building this pump, it helped Boyle with his experiments, and led him to start new experiments as well. Building the air pump led him to discover the role air has in combustion, respiration, and sound transmission. The air pump was Boyle’s first real invention, and it was the very beginning of his long and successful career in physiology.

Five years later, in 1660, Boyle published a book. It was called New Experiments Physio-Mechanicall, Touching the Spring of the Air, and Its Effects, and it was all about his experiments and findings. In his second edition of the book, published in 1662, Boyle mentioned his report he presented the year before to the Royal Society. The report he presented turned into Boyle’s Law. Boyle’s Law states that at a constant temperature, the volume of a given mass of gas is inversely proportional to the pressure upon it. (http://www.biochem.northwestern.edu/holmgren/Glossary/Definitions/Def-B/Boyle's_Law.html)

In 1668 Boyle moved to London to live with his sister. There, he still did experiments, but not as many. Twelve years later, in 1680, he was elected president of the Royal Society but he refused the position. Boyle was a very religious man, and did not see any clash between science and religion. In fact, he believed nature had been created and set into motion by God, but is now is working because of science. He saw no conflict between the two. Robert Boyle’s life ended on December 30th, 1691. He was 64 years old, and his cause of death was old age. He lived a full and successful life, and made many contributions to society.


Contributions:

Robert Boyle was a very successful man, and had many contributions and accomplishments. During the 1660’s was when Boyle started to excel with his experiments, and made his biggest accomplishments. He proposed the view that the basic things of matter consist of ‘corpuscles,’ he discovered that litmus turns red when in acid solution and that it stays blue in alkaline solution, he introduced the use of chemical indicators, he showed that fungi and bacteria become dark in a vacuum but emit light when exposed to air, and he constructed a dark box device which images of outside objects were exhibited in a piece of paper stretched across the back of the box, which later had been discovered as the first portable camera. He was also the first person in England to use a hydrometer, and even invented the first match.

Robert Boyle's Major Scientific Discovery :

Even though these were all very important contributions and discoveries, his most famous accomplishment was Boyle’s Law. He presented the idea first to the Royal Society in 1661, and later published it in his book in 1662. The experiment he used to prove Boyle’s Law was he took a glass tube in the shape of a “J” filled with mercury, and put in gas on one end and watched how much mercury disappeared from the other end and from there determined the volume and pressure of the gas. This experiment was tested many times, and was proven accurate. This was a remarkable discovery for the world of science.

Boyle’s Law is one of three very important gas laws that describe the behavior of gases under different temperatures, pressures, and volumes. What Boyle’s Law helps explain is that when you push a gas, it usually pushes back. Also, there is a limit to the amount we can concentrate any gas though, because eventually if you concentrate it enough the container that holds it will explode. Without the basic Boyle’s Law, we would not know how to measure gases correctly, and how to not make the container that holds the gas explode under too much pressure. A gas law so simple, made a huge difference in the science industry.




Fact I Found Interesting:

An interesting fact about Boyle that I found was that he invented the match. He is much more famous for Boyle’s Law then the invention of the match, because Boyle’s Law actually has his last name in it. I thought that, because of his name, all Robert Boyle did was invent Boyle’s Law. But, as I read more about him I found that wasn’t the case. Robert Boyle made so many contributions other then Boyle’s Law. His discovery of Boyle’s Law was just one of the many things he did with his experiments with chemistry and physics.

The way he made the first match was when a sulfur-tipped splint was drawn through coarse paper coated in phosphorus. I find this experiment very interesting, and I am amazed how someone could come up with that. We owe it all to Robert Boyle whenever we light a fire or candle, because if it wasn’t for his invention of a simple match we might have not found out about it until much later. To me, a match is such a simple thing in my daily life, but to Boyle it was a huge discovery during his science career.