Scientist. Known as the Father of Chemistry. Born at Lismore Castle, in Munster, Ireland, the fourteenth child of Richard Boyle, Earl of Cork. A prodigy, he learned to speak Latin and French before the age of eight. He attended Eton and spent several years in study abroad, returning home in 1644 when he came into his inheritance. A member of the so called Invisible College, a group of scientists and philosophers, Boyle dedicated himself to scientific inquiry. Boyle contributed work in mechanics, medicine, hydrodynamics, and created a vacuum pump. He experimented with purifying chemicals to obtain reproducible reactions. He presented Boyle's law which stated that pressure varied inversely to volume at constant temperature. His first book on chemistry was ‘The Skeptical Chemist,' published in 1661 which declared chemistry a science of the composition of substances and not simply a side bar to alchemy or medicine. He used rigorous experimental and quantitative methods, and gave the first modern definition of a chemical element. He suggested elements were the basic constituents of material bodies; and promoted understanding the distinction between mixtures and compounds. In 1663 the Invisible College became the Royal Society and Boyle a member of the council. In 1680 he was elected president of the society, but declined the honor. He continued to theorized upon the improvement of agricultural methods, in the possibility of extracting fresh water from salt, in the improvement of medicines and medicinal practice, and in the possibility of preserving food by vacuum packing, and was the first to use indicators which changed colors with acidity. His theological interests and his scientific work he saw as two parts of a whole all aimed at enlightenment. He spent a great deal of money in promoting the spread of Christianity, contributing generously to missionary societies, and toward the translation of the Bible into numerous languages. He wrote copiously, reporting all of his experiments both successful and non-successful, leaving a substantial catalogue which included ‘The Reconcileableness of Reason and Religion,' published in 1675; ‘Hydrostatical Paradoxes' published in 1666; ‘Origin and Virtues of Gems' in 1672; the ‘Aerial Noctiluca' in 1680; and ‘Natural History of the Human Blood' in 1684. By 1689 his indifferent health began to fail and he withdrew from society. He died less than two years later and was buried in the churchyard of St Martins in the Fields where his funeral was presided over by his friend Bishop Burnet.
Bio by: Iola