Born on 25th of January 1627
Died on 31st of December 1691
In his quest to understand the natural world Robert Boyle helped to establish what is now known as the scientific method. His experimental work enabled him to formulate Boyle’s Law and his various writings on gases and elements formed the building blocks of modern chemistry.
The Hon. Robert Boyle was born on January 25, 1627 at Lismore Castle in County Waterford, Ireland. His father, the first Earl of Cork, was reputedly the richest man in Ireland and the young Boyle was accordingly sent to Eton. He continued his education in Europe for six years, and it was during this time that he had a profound religious experience which confirmed his Christian beliefs. In 1644 having studied Galileo’s work in Italy he returned to England with a passionate interest in science, which he explored in comfort on the family property in Stalbridge in Dorset. In London he became part of the Invisible College (the forerunner of the Royal Society of which he was later a leading member), a group of like-minded enquirers seeking greater knowledge of the natural world.
Moving to Oxford in 1654 Boyle began working on and experimenting with an air pump to create a vacuum. He was able to establish amongst other things that all masses fall towards earth with an equal acceleration and that a vacuum does not conduct sound but will carry electricity. His work on the properties of gases known as Boyles Law was to ensure his lasting fame. As a student of natural philosophy Boyle formulated an atomic theory of matter and identified the elements which make up that matter. All this was done using experiments to test and validate his theories, the results of which were documented and published. His book The Sceptical Chymist was seminal in the field of chemical investigation.
In 1668 Boyle moved back to London to live at the Pall Mall house of his sister Lady Ranelagh. He continued his voluminous writings, scientific enquiries and theological speculations until his death on December 31, 1691.
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