Father of Chemistry
A number of scientists and thinkers can lay claim to having enhanced the field of chemistry over the years, as it has continued to develop. However, two names that stand out prominently and may be considered as the prime contenders for the title of Father of Chemistry are those of Antoine Lavoisier and Robert Boyle. Their contributions to chemistry as a science are perhaps far more significant than any other single person in the history of mankind.
Born in France in 1743, Antoine Lavoisier was a nobleman and prominent in the histories of biology and chemistry. He was the first to determine the composition of water in 1783 and was able to synthesise it from its elements. In 1778, he coined the name Oxygen and Hydrogen in 1783. He was also able to predict the existence of Silicon in 1778.
He established that Sulfur was not a compound but an element in 1777.
Lavoisier helped in the advancement of chemistry by carefully weighing the reactants and products in chemical reactions and introduced the metric system. He contributed to the formulation of the Law of Conservation of Mass. According to the law, there is no change in the total amount of mass when matter changes from one form into another.
Lavoisier contributed to early ideas that Oxygen combines with radicals in reactions.
Boyle (1627-1691) formulated the Boyle’s Law, according to which the pressure exerted by a gas is inversely proportional to the volume occupied by it.
He showed that air is necessary for combustion, for breathing by animals and transmission of sound.
Boyle contributed to the formulation of the Atomic Theory of Matter by proposing that ‘corpuscles’ formed the basic units of elements, which were composed of groups of corpuscles.
He demonstrated that compounds could have different properties from their constituent elements and distinguished clearly between compounds and mixtures.
He developed some of the first analytical tests for identification of substances and their classification according to their properties, e.g., the flame tests, which are still in use.