Humphry Davy (born:
December 17, 1778 / died: May 29, 1829)
He was born in Penzance, Cornwall, England.
|Davy became well known owing to his experiences with
the physiological action of some gases, including laughing gas (nitrous oxide).
In 1801 he was nominated professor at the Royal Institution of Great Britain
and member of the Royal Society that he would later preside over.
In 1800, Alessandro Volta introduced the first electric pile or battery. Davy proved that it was not using two different metals that made the Voltaic Pile work. The electricity was actually caused by the chemical reaction caused by the cloth soaked in brine that Volta had used to increase conductivity. Davy was able to create an electric current from the same metal in two different fluids with the metal in each fluid touching. Davy used this electric battery to separate salts by what is now known as electrolysis. With many batteries in series he was able to separate elemental potassium and sodium in 1807 and calcium, strontium, barium, and magnesium in 1808. He also showed that oxygen could not be obtained from the substance known as oxymuriatic acid and proved the substance to be an element, which he named chlorine. He also studied the energies involved in separating these salts, which is now the field of electrochemistry.
|In 1812 he was knighted, gave a farewell lecture to
the Royal Institution, and married a wealthy widow. After a long vacation
in Europe, he went on to produce the Davy lamp which was used by miners.
Davy died in Geneva, Switzerland.
His laboratory assistant Michael Faraday went on to enhance his
work and in the end became more famous and influential.