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By J. R. Partington

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Although Davy’s researches could directly and indirectly lead to great advances in industfy, his interests were wholly in pure science. ’ In his younger days especially, Davy was too prone to introduce hypotheses into experimental papers, but his mind was very flexible and he freely discarded unfruitful speculations. Works Apart from his contributions to scientific journals which are referred to in appropriate places, Davy wrote the following: I. , Bristol, 1799: ‘A n Essay on Heat, L ight, and the Combinations o f L ig h t’, 5 -14 7 ; ‘A n Essay on the Generation of Phosoxygen (O xygen Gas); A n d on the Causes o f the Colors o f Organic Beings’, i s i ­ z e s ; in X I , 1 8 3 9 , i i , I I .

TTiorpe, Humphry Davy, Poet and Philos<^her, 1901; Tilden, (i), 1921, 78; Walker, 1862, bs'f'SNfAd, History of the Royal Society, 1848, ii, 318,415; Winderlich, Z. angew. , 1929, sJii, 607. * Peachey, Ann. Med. , igzy, ix, 12. * Paris, ii, 43, 243; Berzelius, SelbsbiographischeAufzeichmmgen, Kahlbaum’s Monographien, 1903, vii, 86. , slightly abbreviated. *X I,viii, 155-365. 35 D a v y ’s interest in minerals w ent back to his Penzance days. * Although Davy’s researches could directly and indirectly lead to great advances in industfy, his interests were wholly in pure science.

A reference to a ‘metal of salt’ in a MS. ^ Davy in his first Bakerian Lecture (1806) (XI, v, 54) said: ‘ I f chemical union be o f the nature w hich I have ventured to suppose, however strong the natural electrical energies o f the elements o f bodies m ay be, yet there is every probability o f a limit to their strength; whereas the powers o f our artificial instruments seem capable o f indefinite increase. ’ Berthollet* had previously suggested that in electricity: ‘L a chimie a acquis . . ’ Lord Brougham® says that, after Davy’s lecture in 1806: ‘I can well remember that we expected soon to find the fixed alkalies and even the alkaBerzelius’s that the atoms have already electrical charges, neutralised on combination; Larmor, Mther and Matter, Cambridge, 1900, 318.

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A History of Chemistry by J. R. Partington


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