Father of Chemistry
There are a number of scientists who have contributed to the growth of the field of chemistry. But Antoine Lavoisier and Robert Boyle stand out among them all. With their immense contributions to chemistry as a science, nobody is more eligible for the title of ‘Father of Chemistry’ than these two figures.
Antoine Lavoisier was born in 1743 as a part of a noble family in Paris, France. He was central to the 18th-century Chemical Revolution. He also had an immense influence on the history of biology and the history of chemistry.
One of his most notable contributions is the recognition of Oxygen (1778) and Hydrogen (1783). He also discovered the role played by Oxygen in combustion. In 1783, he determined the composition of water and was able to synthesise it from its elements.
In 1777, he established that Sulfur was not a compound but an element. He predicted the existence of Silicon in 1778. Lavoisier also contributed to early ideas that Oxygen combines with radicals in reactions.
In 1789, he published his book Elementary Treatise of Chemistry (trans.Robert Kerr). It is one of the first modern textbooks about chemistry. In this book, he defined an element as a substance that cannot be broken down into a simpler substance by a chemical reaction. He also helped in constructing the metric system as well as creating the first exhaustive list of elements.
He formulated the Law of Conservation of Mass, by carefully weighed the reactants and products in chemical reactions. The law states that there is no change in the total amount of mass when matter changes from one form into another.
Robert Boyle is one of the founders of modern chemistry. He was born in 1627, in Ireland, as the son of an Earl. Today, he is famous for formulating the Boyle’s Law.
The law states that the absolute pressure exerted by a given mass of an ideal gas is inversely proportional to the volume it occupies if the temperature and amount of gas remain unchanged within a closed system.
In 1661, Boyle published the work The Sceptical Chymist. It is one of the most important works in the field of chemistry. The book contributed to the formulation of the Atomic Theory of Matter, arguing that that matter consists of ‘corpuscles’.
Boyle demonstrated that compounds could have different properties from their constituent elements and distinguished clearly between compounds and mixtures. He also proved that air is necessary for combustion, for breathing as well as for the transmission of sound.
Some of the first analytical tests for identifying and classifying substances according to their properties was developed by him. Many of these tests such as flame tests are still in use.