Robert Boyle: biography and contributions of this researcher

Robert Boyle was a philosopher, chemist, physicist and inventor, also notable for the study of religion (in particular, he was a Christian theologian).

He was particularly interested in experimental science, focusing first on the study of gases, which allowed him to develop his famous Boyle’s law or Boyle-Mariotte law, which establishes an inverse relationship between the volume occupied by the gas and its pressure, considering constant temperature.

His passion for research and invention was such that he made a list of possible inventions he envisioned in the future; Likewise, when he saw that his health was weakening, he left several chemical investigations prepared or thoughts for the benefit of his followers.

In this Robert Boyle biography we will see the most remarkable events and facts from the life of this researcher, highlighting the contributions and contributions he made to science.

    Brief biography of Robert Boyle

    Robert Boyle was born January 25, 1627 in Waterford, Ireland. He was fortunate enough to be born into a noble family, thus living in a privileged position. He was the fourteenth son (fifteen in all) of Richard Boyle, who was Earl of Cork and was connected with politics, industry and administration, and of Catherine Fenton, also of aristocratic origin and who was to be the count’s second wife. This is why Robert Boyle spent part of his childhood at Lismore Castle.

    Childhood years

    Economic facilities and high family status enabled Boyle to receive a good education and training from an early age; he thus studied Greek, French and Latin.

    At the age of eight, after losing his mother, he entered Elton School, which is a boarding school for children. In order to continue his studies and given the privileged situation in which he lived, at the age of fifteen he was able to reside in Genoa for two years accompanied by a French tutor. In this way he had the opportunity to get to know Italy better and to study the theories and contributions of Galileo Galilei, a very versatile author in the field of science.

      Return to England and youthful years

      After leaving for Italy in 1641, he finally returned to England in 1644; on his arrival he received the will of his father, who had died the previous year while he was living in Italy.

      Among the various properties he acquired, he went to the home of Dorset, England, where he decided to build a laboratory.. It was at this time that he decided to choose scientific research as his field of study, probably influenced by the training he received during the trip and the knowledge of Galileo Galilei’s theories.

      Boyle joined a group of researchers he called the “Invisible College”., formed by philosophers with scientific tendencies, whose main objective was to acquire knowledge based on experimental research. This group of “modern philosophers” also held regular meetings in the City of London at both Gresham College and Oxford.

      While at Oxford he was a cavalier, a group of supporters and supporters of King Charles I during the English Civil War., although little is known about Boyle’s role in this group, as the opposing forces during his participation were effective, which meant the Cavaliers had to act in the most covert manner possible.

        Consolidation of his professional life

        In 1652, after coming and going from Ireland, Boyle decided to settle permanently in one of his estates, but his stay was short-lived, lasting only two years. In 1654 he returned to England, as he considered that Ireland was not ready to continue his scientific research.; he considered that at that time he could not obtain new chemical instruments nor that its inhabitants had the capacity to understand the investigations or the advances.

        On his return to London, specifically Oxford, he rented several rooms in the Cross Hall area.

        Like that he was able to assist, between 1656 and 1668, Robert Hooke, considered one of the most important experimental researchers in history., in his work to perfect the air pump created by Otto von Guericke.

        It was in 1659 that he introduced the “boyean machine” or also known as the “pneumatic motor”, thus inaugurating a period of study of the physical properties of air and its function in the processes of respiration, transmission of sound and combustion.

        In this way, with the results obtained in his experiments on air, he was able to write and publish a book in 1660 entitled “New physico-physical experiments on the elasticity of air and its effects”, presented in the second edition of this his famous and recognized law named in Europe the Boyle-Mariotte law, as Edme Mariotte also independently discovered this law in Boyle. This law states that at constant temperature, the volume occupied by a gas is inversely proportional to its pressure, i.e. the more volume there is occupied, the less pressure there is and vice versa.

        Currently, this law is still known, but it was added that for this, it would take an ideal theoretical behavior of the gas.

        The following year, in 1661, presented his second work titled “The Skeptical Chemist”, which would signify the establishment of chemistry as a science. The content of this work is important and prominent in criticizing Aristotle’s theory of the 4 elements which combine to form matter: water, earth, fire and air, and the three principles of Paracelsus, of which he says that all being is made up of salt. , mercury and sulfur.

        On the other hand, Boyle believed that matter was formed from the combination of fundamental particles, a concept he himself proposed. This theory was premonitory and was not mistaken, as 100 years later Antonie Lavoisier and John Dalton by the discoveries they made were able to affirm it, thus giving rise to the beginning of modern chemistry.

        In 1663 the group of philosophers, which, as we have said, baptized Invisible College, became what we know today as the Royal Society of London, considered to be the oldest scientific society in the United Kingdom and one of the oldest in Europe. It was the King of England himself, Charles II, who chose Boyle as a member of the council, giving him in 1680 the honor of being president of the Royal Society. although on this occasion he did not accept as he preferred to stay focused on his work and research.

        His ability to predict or his ability to be a visionary was also reflected in a list of inventions he made, for example citing “the art of flying”, “a convenient and precise way to determine lengths”, ” perpetual light “. to relieve pain and wake up memory ”, among others. We then see how most of these inventions or discoveries were made later.

        As we have seen, his great interest in experimental science also led him to embark on other studies such as the calcination of different metals, which involves heating them to very high temperatures so that thermal decomposition or change of physical or chemical state, or com the distinction between alkaline and acidic substances, which would allow the constitution of chemical indicators, which have the capacity to indicate whether a substance is a weak acid or a weak base.

          His last years in London

          In 1668 he moved to London to live with his sister Lady Ranelagh with whom he remained until his death, just a week before his. In 1689, his state of health began to weaken and become more delicate, which led him to decide to move further and further away from public life, not becoming so involved in the Royal Society and being able to to concentrate. some chemical research as a legacy for his followers.

          His health did not improve and on December 31, 1691, he died of paralysis. He is buried in the cemetery of the Anglican Church of St Martin-in-the-Fields, the funeral was celebrated by Bishop Gilbert Burnet, a friend of the deceased.

          Given his belief in the Christian faith, he left it written in his will that part of their money was intended to translate and publish the Gospels in Gaelic and Turkish, with the aim of evangelizing, i.e. say to make known and spread Christianity. In the same way, established an annual conference to support and defend Christianity; these took place every year until the end of the twentieth century.

          Currently, since 2004, these conferences are again promoted in London in the Church of St Mary-le-Bow, where the participation of a theologian or scientist with the aim of raising and dealing with issues related to Christianity and the current understanding of the natural world.

          Bibliographical references

          • Ceroni, M. (2011) Recalling Robert Boyle. Journal of the Chemical Society of Peru.
          • Esteban, S. (2002) Around Boyle: his world and his scientific work. Genuine Spanish Society of Chemistry.
          • Choker, P. (2018) Robert Boyle: The Chemist Who Ended the Alchemy Superstition. ABC science.
          • Bertran, P. Robert Boyle: Biography and summary of his contributions to science. Medicoplus.

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