Robert Boyle (1627-1691) was an early scientist, who studied physics, chemistry, natural philosophy, and more. He is best known for his discoveries in physics and chemistry. Although he was taught the traditions of alchemy, he is considered a founder of modern chemistry.
Robert Boyle was born in Ireland, the son of an earl. As a child, Robert learned Latin, Greek, and French. Before his ninth birthday he was sent to Eton College for three years, followed by two years abroad with a tutor.
In 1645, Boyle returned to England. From this point, his life became devoted to scientific research. Among his experiments, he created a new air pump. The lessons that he learned from this project led him to create Boyle’s First Law, understanding that the volume of the gas varies inversely with the pressure of that gas.
Robert Boyle made many accomplishments in physics. He studied this specific gravity’s various materials, refractive powers, and hydrostatics. He investigated freezing water, noticing how it expanded. And he was the first to understand the role that air plays in the propagation of sound.
Yet for all his discoveries in physics, chemistry was his favorite subject. Robert Boyle was an alchemist who believed that metals could be transmuted into gold; unfortunately, while his experiments were unsuccessful. In 1689, he was instrumental in repealing the law against alchemy.
Robert Boyle saw chemistry as the study of the composition of substances. He helped science move towards the understanding of elements, and distinguished between mixtures and compounds.
Along with his other studies, Robert Boyle enjoyed theology. His writings on religious subjects gained him a great deal of support, though he refused to accept a position dedicated to this study through Eton College. He contributed money to missionary societies, encouraging the spread of Christianity. He used his wealth to translate the Bible into various languages.
In 1689, Robert Boyle’s frail health began to fail. He died in December of 1691, and was buried at the churchyard of St Martin’s on the Fields in England.