Robert Boyle First Chemist to Perform Quantitative Experiments Term Paper

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due to his work on the scientific method, quantitative methodology and hypothesis clarification, Robert Boyle of the 17th century has been more firmly recognized as the father of modern chemistry. This report provides an overview of Boyle's life and contributions to the scientific field.

A number of individuals in literature and sciences during the 17th century are being rediscovered. Present scholars are recognizing their worth and major contributions to the world of knowledge. One of these leading figures was Robert Boyle whose expertise was in natural philosophy and is regarded as the father of modern chemistry. However, as noted by today's scientists such as Levere (75), Boyle "was not just a chemist, alchemist, or chemist. He published extensively on topics relating to religion and irreligion, and he was one of the most thoughtful commentators on and contributors to the emerging methods of experimental philosophy." His ideas set the course of modern chemistry by developing a style of thorough, repeated, systematic experimentation and accurate measurement. In short, he helped create three "technologies":

a material technology in the form of the air-pump a literary technology "by means of which the phenomena produced by the pump were made known to those who were not direct witnesses" a social technology that established scientific conventions for evaluating knowledge-claims (Shapin and Schaffer 25).

Born in Ireland, Boyle began his formal education at Eton College at the age of eight, where his studious nature was quickly noticed. In 1644, he began a literary career writing ethical and devotional tracts. In 1649, "he began investigating nature via scientific experimentation, a process that enthralled him" (Encyclopedia Brittanica).

Boyle's scientific work is characterized by its reliance on experiment and observation and its reluctance to rely on generalized theories. He promoted a mechanical philosophy, which asked whether mechanism could be combined with the assumption that nature has designs. He saw the universe as a huge machine like a clock where natural phenomena were accountable purely by mechanical motion. His contributions to chemistry were thus based on a mechanical atomism http://search.eb.com/eb/topic?idxStructId=746614& typeId=13

corpuscularian hypothesis. This was a brand of claiming everything was composed of minute, but not indivisible, particles of a single universal matter that were only differentiable by their shape and motion. Among his most important works were alchemy http://search.eb.com/eb/topic?idxStructId=526934& typeId=13

The Sceptical Chymist (1661), which debated the Aristotelian and Paracelsian notions about the composition of matter and methods of chemical analysis, and the Origine of Formes and Qualities (1666), which used chemical phenomena to support the corpuscularian hypothesis. Boyle also continued throughout his life the examination of transmutational, trying to discover the secret of transmuting base metals into gold and to contact individuals believed to possess alchemical secrets (Encyclopedia Brittanica).

In his works including Study of the Booke of Nature and Christian Virtuoso, which promoted the advantages of experimental philosophy, Boyle argued for the usefulness of the mechanical arts for practical and philosophical purposes. He suggested, for example, that "there are diverse ways of investi[gati]ng the attributes of bodies, as chymical, optical, statistical, & c. which being artificial, and requiring skill, and industry, and instruments, there are very few men that have had the curiosity and ability to examine them after these several ways" (1671). He used the aspects of chemistry as a practical method in order to convince 17th century skeptics that chemical experiments provided confirmation for his mechanical hypothesis and defended his use of chemical experiments as a means of confirming data for his matter theory, against the "many learned men" who thought chemistry was beneath the notice of a philosopher and "unfit for the rational and useful parts" of natural philosophy (1661).

Boyle first looked at constants and variables with his work on gases. Using a huge J-shaped tube mounted on the side of his home, he examined the correlation between the pressure of the trapped gas and its volume. After collecting his complete data, Boyle noticed that the product of the pressure and volume for the gas was constant. This is represented by the equation PV = k, where P. is pressure, V is volume, and k is a constant number at a specific temperature for a given sample of air. This notion, which is called Boyle's law, was then used to predict the new volume…[continue]

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