Friday, 23 March 2012 05:25

Robert Boyle: Men of Ideas

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Robert Boyle (1627-1691) was an Irish-English chemist and physicist. He developed what is now called Boyles law in Chemistry and is generally regarded as the father of modern Chemistry.

In physics Boyle discovered the role of air in the propagation of sound, the forces involved in water becoming frozen, and studied, crystals, gems, hydrostatics and colors etc.

In Chemistry Boyle advanced the view that elements (atoms) are the irreducible parts of matter; he contributed to the understanding of chemical mixtures and compounds.

Boyle was one of the first persons to practice Francis Bacon’s empiricism, the insistence that knowledge should be derived from observations of facts and from experimentation rather than from speculation.

Boyle performed experiments that led him to conclude that sound is a product of air interacting with space, and that the elements were composed of particles of certain sizes. He engaged in substantial studies to understand individual elements (substances) and how they combined in chemical mixtures and compounds.

Boyle dabbled in physics, chemistry and biology.  He attempted to understand human physiology, especially respiration; the chemistry of combustion, electricity, gravity, refraction, color etc. His findings on these subjects were crude. His real contribution is his attempt to understand them in controlled experiments.

Like many scientists of his day, Boyle had his say on religious matters. He was essentially a proponent of English Christianity and gave enormous sums of money for the propagation of Christianity in the new lands that Englishmen were conquering (such as India). He considered non-Christians, such as Jews, Muslims and Hindus as infidels to be converted to Christianity and gave generously to Christian societies working to convert those supposed infidels to Christianity. His religion was Christianity; he worked to propagate Christianity. Boyle was never married.

Boyle’s chief contribution to science is his attempt to implement Francis Bacon’s empiricism and experimental science. He dabbled in many aspects of physics, chemistry and biology and in so doing laid the foundation for modern experimental science.

He studied the properties of air and contributed what is now known as Boyle’s law: that the volume of gas varies inversely to the pressure of the gas.

REFERENCES

Robert Boyle. The Sceptical Chymist. (1661)

Robert Boyle. Experimentae et Observationes Physicae. (1691)

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Ozodi Osuji Ph.D

Ozodi Thomas Osuji is from Imo State, Nigeria. He obtained his PhD from UCLA. He taught at a couple of Universities and decided to go back to school and study psychology. Thereafter, he worked in the mental health field and was the Executive Director of two mental health agencies. He subsequently left the mental health environment with the goal of being less influenced by others perspectives, so as to be able to think for himself and synthesize Western, Asian and African perspectives on phenomena. Dr Osuji’s goal is to provide us with a unique perspective, one that is not strictly Western or African but a synthesis of both. Dr Osuji teaches, writes and consults on leadership, management, politics, psychology and religions. Dr Osuji is married and has three children; he lives at Anchorage, Alaska, USA.

He can be reached at: ozodiosuji@gmail.com (907) 310-8176