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                                Robert Boyle

  (b. Jan. 25, 1627, Lismore, Ireland - d. Dec. 30, 1691, London, England)

An Anglo-Irish chemist and natural philosopher, Robert Boyle is noted for
his pioneer experiments on the properties of gases and his espousal of a
corpuscular view of matter that was a forerunner of the modern theory of
chemical elements and atomic theory.

Boyle was the 7th child of Richard Boyle a man of wealth and influence. In
1635 he was sent to Eton College. After Eton, he spent the years 1639 to
1644 with his tutor on the Continent, for the most pa rt in Switzerland. In
1644, Boyle returned to England and lived with his sister Catherine, Lady
Ranelagh, for about a year. From 1645 to 1655 Boyle lived partly in Dorse t,
where he began his experimental work and writing of moral essays.

Later, Boyle spent some time in Ireland in connection with his estates.
There he engaged in anatomical dissections since laboratory equipment for
chemical experiments were unobtainable there. From 1656 to 1668, he resided
at Oxford where he had the good fortune to secure the assistance of Robert
Hooke, who helped him to construct the air pump. Recognizing the scientific
possibilities of this invention, Boyle conducted pioneering experiments in
which he demonstrated the physical characteristics of air and the necessity
of air for combustion, respiration, and the transmission of sound.

Boyle described his work in 1660 in New Experiments Physio-Mechanical,
Touching the Spring of the Air and its Effects. To the second edition of
this work, in 1662, Boyle appended his report of 16 61 to the Royal Society
on the relationship, now known as Boyle's Law, of the volume of gases and
pressure. In 1661, Boyle attacked the Aristotelian theor y of the four
elements (earth, air, fire, and water) and the three principles (salt,
sulfur, mercury), proposed by Paracelsus, in his book titled The Sceptical

Beginning in 1668, Boyle resided with his sister in London again. In this
final period of his life, Boyle continued his experimental work w ith the
help of laboratory assistants. Boyle also continued to take interest in the
Royal Society and in his charitable activities. By his will, he endowed a
series of Boyle Lectur es, or sermons, which still continue, 'for proving
the Christian Religion against notorious Infidels'.