(1627-1691) Irish chemist and physicist who published the seminal The Skeptical Chymist 1661. He formulated Boyle’s law 1662. He was a pioneer in the use of experiment and scientific method.
Boyle questioned the alchemical basis of the chemical theory of his day and taught that the proper object of chemistry was to determine the compositions of substances. The term “analysis” was coined by Boyle and many of the reactions still used in qualitative work were known to him. He introduced certain plant extracts, notably litmus, for the indication of acids and bases. He was also the first chemist to collect a sample of gas.
Boyle was born in Lismore, County Waterford. He lived in Oxford, England, 1654–68, and subsequently in London. As a student he joined a group whose aim was to cultivate the “new philosophy”; this became the Royal Society 1662.
He learned Hebrew, Greek, and Syriac to further his studies of the Bible, and endowed the Boyle Lectures for the defense of Christianity.
Boyle pointed out that bodies alter in weight according to the varying buoyancy of the atmosphere. These findings were published in The Spring of Air 1660.
In The Skeptical Chymist he advanced toward the view that matter is ultimately composed of “corpuscles” of various sorts and sizes, capable of arranging themselves into groups, and that each group constitutes a chemical substance. He successfully distinguished between mixtures and compounds and showed that a compound can have very different qualities from those of its constituents.
In 1667 Boyle was the first to study the phenomenon of bioluminescence, when he showed that fungi and bacteria require air (oxygen) for luminescence, becoming dark in a vacuum and luminescing again when air is readmitted. He can also be credited with the invention of the first match 1680.
Although his main importance is in chemistry, Boyle accomplished much important work in physics, with Boyle's law, the role of air in propagating sound, the expansive force of freezing water, the refractive powers of crystals, the density of liquids, electricity, color, hydrostatics, and so on.
4th Earl of Orrery (1676-1731) Irish soldier and diplomat. The orrery, a mechanical model of the Solar System in which the planets move at the correct relative velocities, is named for him.
Town in Mississippi (USA); zip code 38730.