Site is under maintenance mode. Please wait few min!

Robert Boyle

Robert Boyle Photo

Often referred to as the father of modern chemistry, Robert Boyle was a prominent philosopher, chemist, physicist, and inventor born in a noble family on January 25, 1627. Boyle was born in County Waterford in the south-east of Ireland and received most of his early education at Eton College, England.

In 1639, at the age of 12, Boyle along with his brother Francis traveled most of Europe accompanied by their tutor, Isaac Marcombes. As part of a long-held tradition, study trips were a commonality then, meant to encourage learning through experience. At age 14, Boyle had gained stark awareness of Galileo’s work and studies Galileo’s theories of motion and mathematics closely.

In 1644, aged 17, an enlightened Boyle returned to England from his European expedition, a short while after his father’s death and settled in Dorset, in South West England amid the frenzy of England’s civil war. It was during this period, in the quiet of his home, that Boyle embarked on a literary career. A man with a deeply rooted faith and beliefs well instilled through his aristocratic family and education, Boyle wrote many a literary piece on ethics and morality.

Along with a literary career, Boyle also set to work on a scientific career by first setting up a laboratory in Dorset and studying scientific experiments. In 1646, Boyle became an active member of a group of philosophers and theorists who called themselves “the invisible college”, a precursor of the Royal Society, that mainly served to unfurl nature-based philosophies and societal norms of hierarchy and passage of knowledge. The group convened its meetings in London, often in the city of Oxford – a city where Boyle moved to in 1654 and eventually resided in for a fair few years.

It was during his time at Oxford that Boyle had the fortuitous opportunity of meeting Robert Hooke, a young, inspired student of the sciences who would later help him devise his first remarkable invention – the vacuum pump. Inspired by Otto von Guericke’s invention of a vacuum pump (1654), Boyle and Hooke theorized upon improving Guericke’s design through various experiments determining the properties of air and the vacuum. Through one of his first published works New Experiments Physico-Mechanicall, Touching the Spring of the Air, and Its Effects (1660), Boyle advanced great experiments such as establishing the necessity of air for combustion, for animal breathing, and for the transmission of sound. And it was through these experiments that Boyle proposed the concept of there being an inverse relationship between the volume of gas and the pressure that it undergoes, in 1662, which was later identified as Boyle’s Law.

Along with all his work in the world of philosophy and science that he had to his credit, Boyle also served as one of the founding members of the Royal Society of London, founded in 1663. The Royal Society served to independently study the natural world from societal, religious and political aspects with a sheer disregard for stirring societal controversy.

Boyle lived during a time of great superstition and had to work his way through a society that lived by absolute norms. To make a discovery and then publicize it meant challenging the laws and logic set in motion over decades. With a knack for defining things based on their real nature versus perceived, Boyle was among the first renowned scientists to have carried out controlled experiments and publish a detailed study of his work and achievements.  His published series saw him construct great theories and philosophies governing medicine, nature, and religion.

A prolific writer and thinker, Robert Boyle’s most sought after and pronounced book The Sceptical Chymist is touted as one of the cornerstones of chemistry through which he argued for the indisputable and independent existence of chemical substances and not as an aide to the fields of alchemy or physics.

Write About Robert Boyle