Traveling with the Atom

Allegheny College

Compiled by Glen E. Rodgers

Updated March, 2009


Robert Boyle
Irish Chemist/Alchemist

Contribution to the Development of the Atomic Concept
Not an alchemist, not a chemist but a transitional “sceptical chymist”, Boyle believed that it was possible to transform base metals to gold but that the best chance for success was an open and well-documented experimental approach. He rejected the Greek view of elements and advocated instead a modern-like definition. He envisioned each element as composed of unique “corpuscles” or what we would call atoms. He interpreted his law (“Boyle’s Law”) relating the pressure and volume of a gas (ordinary air in his case) in terms of corpuscles colliding with the sides of the container. Any account of the development of the modern atom cannot neglect the early and important contributions of Robert Boyle.


Web Sources of Biographical Information
The Robert Boyle Project by Michael Hunter
Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
Molecules in Motion Demonstrator (for demonstration of gas laws)


Selected Biographical Books, Sections of Books, and Articles
Full biographical information on Sacks' book Uncle Tungsten pp 102-105; 225-226
Full biographical information on Asimov's Biographical Encyclopedia of Science and Technology, 2nd Ed. pp 134-136


Some Scientific/Historical Traveling Sites
The Robert Boyle Science Room Lismore Heritage Centre, Lismore, County Waterford
Catherine Fenton Boyle Memorial, Dublin West end of nave, St. Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin, Ireland
Richard Boyle Memorial, Youghal, County Cork

The Collegiate Church of Saint Mary the Virgin South Transept

Boyle & Hook Plaque, Oxford Oxford Walks, Oxford, England
London Residence and Phosphorus Laboratory The London of Robert Boyle
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