Humphry Davy

Humphry Davy



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Humphry Davy, a woodcarver's son, was born in Penzance in 1778. After being educated in Truro, Davy was apprenticed to a Penzance surgeon. In 1797 he took up chemistry and was taken on by Thomas Beddoes, as an assistant at his Medical Pneumatic Institution in Bristol. Here he experimented with various new gases and discovered the anesthetic effect of laughing gas (nitrous oxide).

Davy published details of his research in his book Researches, Chemical and Philosophical (1799). This led to Davy being appointed as a lecturer at the Royal Institution. He was a talented teacher and his lectures attracted large audiences.

In 1806 Davy published On Some Chemical Agencies of Electricity. The following year he discovered that the alkalis and alkaline earths are compound substances formed by oxygen united with metallic bases. He also used electrolysis to discover new metals such as potassium, sodium, barium, strontium, calcium and magnesium.

Davy was now considered to be Britain's leading scientist and in 1812 was knighted by George III. His biographer, David Knight, wrote: "On 8 April 1812 Davy was knighted by the prince regent, and on the 11th he and Jane Apreece were married by the bishop of Carlisle at Jane's mother's house in Portland Place. They spent their honeymoon in Scotland, staying with eminent people; Davy took his little apparatus with him, and conducted some researches on gunpowder. He gave up his courses of lectures, and wrote up his Elements of Chemical Philosophy the same year. This, dedicated to Jane, dealt with his own work, and was meant to be the first of a multi-volume set, but it did not sell well, for it was not a satisfactory textbook and his researches were accessible in the Royal Society's Philosophical Transactions."

Michael Faraday saw Davy lecture in 1813: "Sir H. Davy proceeded to make a few observations on the connections of science with other parts of polished and social life. Here it would be impossible for me to follow him. I should merely injure and destroy the beautiful and sublime observations that fell from his lips. He spoke in the most energetic and luminous manner of the Advancement of the Arts and Sciences. Of the connection that had always existed between them and other parts of a Nation's economy. During the whole of these observations his delivery was easy, his diction elegant, his tone good and his sentiments sublime." In 1813 Faraday became his temporary assistant and spent the next 18 months touring Europe while during Davy's investigations into his theory of volcanic action.

In 1815 Humphry Davy invented a safety lamp for use in gassy coalmines, allowing deep coal seams to be mined despite the presence of firedamp (methane). This led to some controversy as George Stephenson, working in a colliery near Newcastle, also produced a safety lamp that year. Both men claimed that they were first to come up with this invention. Stephenson wrote in The Philosophical Magazine in 1817: "The principles upon which a safety lamp might be constructed I stated to several persons long before Sir Humphrey Davy came into this part of the country. The plan of such a lamp was seen by several and the lamp itself was in the hands of the manufacturers during the time he was here."

One of Davy's most important contributions to history was that he encouraged manufacturers to take a scientific approach to production. His discoveries in chemistry helped to improve several industries including agriculture, mining and tanning.

Sir Humphry Davy died in 1829.

I observe you have thought proper to insert the last number of The Philosophical Magazine your opinion that my attempts at the safety tubes and apertures were borrowed from what I have heard of Sir Humprey Davy's researches. The principles upon which a safety lamp might be constructed I stated to several persons long before Sir Humphrey Davy came into this part of the country. The plan of such a lamp was seen by several and the lamp itself was in the hands of the manufacturers during the time he was here.

It will hereafter be scarcely believed that an invention so eminently scientific, and which could never have been derived but from the sterling treasury of science, should have been claimed on behalf of an engine-wright of Killingworth, of the name of Stephenson - a person not even possessing a knowledge of the elements of chemistry.

Sir H. During the whole of these observations his delivery was easy, his diction elegant, his tone good and his sentiments sublime.

The accidents in mines produced by atmospheric causes, are usually most numerous in warm weather, because the temperature of the air of the pit being then more equable, the difficulty of causing a column of fresh air to descend is very much increased. In all deep mines and especially in working at a distance from the shaft, the Davy lamp is uniformly used. It will, however, astonish many persons to learn that during the eighteen years previous to 1816 when the safety-lamp was introduced, the loss of life in the counties of Northumberland and Durham by explosion was 447, whereas during the 18 years subsequent to 1816, the amount of loss of life in this way was 538 - the difference being accounted for by the working of the many "fiery Collieries", previously inaccessible; by the neglect and carelessness of the workmen themselves in the management of their lamps; and by the too frequent relaxation of ventilation measures that were previously rigidly carried into effect.

With respect to accidents of all kinds in collieries, I transcribe a table given among the results of one of the parliamentary inquiries into the subject, detailing the number of fatal accidents during the year 1838, and applying to 55 mining districts:

Type of Accidents

Deaths

By falling down shafts

63

Breaking of ropes

1

During the time of ascending and descending shafts

10

Drowned

22

Fall of stones and coals

97

Various injuries in coal pits

43

Explosions of gas

88

Explosions of gunpowder

4

By traffic and waggons

21

Total

349


Humphry Davy

When we think of a scientist, we conjure up images of a very smart, but sad, serious man who never laughs nor smiles. Well, not Humphry Davy. He had a penchant for laughing gas and often inhaled it with his friends for fun. In his defence, he also thought the gas could have some beneficial properties that, when discovered, could be used to perform surgical operations and relieve hangovers. But he experimented so much with it that he became addicted. It was said that the experiment room in his house was built just so that he and his friends could throw laughing gas parties!

But I’m getting ahead of the story. Humphrey Davy was born at Penzance in Cornwall, on 17 December 1778. When he was 9, the family moved to Varfell, near Ludgvan, but during the school term, the young boy boarded with John Tonkin, his mother’s godfather. He finished his education at Truro Grammar School, but no one there realised just how bright he was. Maybe it’s because the education he received wasn’t that great. He later said: “I consider it fortunate I was left much to myself as a child, and put upon no particular plan of study… What I am I made myself.”

Davy dabbled for a while in poetry, and even painted a bit but, after he was apprenticed to a surgeon, his passion for science bloomed. He love conducting experiments, much to everyone else’s vexation. He almost blew up his house several times, and the ladies also lamented the chemicals he used would ruin their dresses beyond repair. But, through his job, Davy also met other men interested in the sciences.

One of these, Dr Thomas Beddoes, offered him a position as his assistant at the Pneumatic Institution, an organization that studied the medical properties of gases. It’s here that Davy became fascinated with laughing gas. During this period, he also became friends with other famous and influential people of his time, such as the inventor James Watt and poets Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Robert Southey. He also conducted experiments on galvanisms, and managed, through chemistry, to generate electric light. A pioneer in the field of electrolysis, he used the voltaic pile to split compounds, and thus discovered new elements, such as potassium, sodium, and calcium.

Davy soon attracted the attention of the Royal Institution. He started working there as assistant lecturer in chemistry. Maybe it was because he was goodlooking, or because he liked to perform experiments in front of his audience, but his lectures on galvanism and agricultural chemistry were very popular, even among the ladies. A year after his arrival, he was appointed full lecturer. In November 1804, he became a Fellow of the Royal Society, over which he would later preside. He also founded, with other learned gentleman, the Geological Society in 1807 and was even elected a foreign member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in 1810.

In 1812, the scientist was knighted. That year, he left the Royal Institution and married a wealthy widow, Jane Apreece. The two soon started travelling across Europe. They first went to France, where Napoleon gave him a medal for his electro-chemical work, and then visited Italy, Germany, and Austria. They were planning to go to Greece next, but Napoleon’s escape from Elba forced them to change their plans and return hastily to England. Here, he continued his experiments, inventing a lamp that helped coal miners do their job but didn’t, unlike the lamps previously used, cause explosions.

In 1819, Davy was awarded a baronetcy, and the following year became President of the Royal Society. He also wrote Consolations in Travel, a compendium of poetry, thoughts on science and philosophy, which, published posthumously, became very popular. In February 1829, while in Italy, he had a stroke. He went to Switzerland, where he died, in Geneva, on 29 May 1829.


Early Life

Englishman Humphry Davy was born on December 17, 1778, in Penzance, Cornwall, to middle-class parents. He was well educated, but he was also naturally intelligent and curious, and those traits often manifested in the fiction and poetry he wrote at an early age. Davy was also deeply interested in nature, and he was an avid fisherman and collector of minerals and rocks.

When Davy was 16 years old, his father died, and a year later he became a surgeon apprentice, with the hopes of one day having a career in medicine. He was also befriended by Davies Gilbert, who lived with Davy as a lodger and would serve as a major influence on Davy’s life of science. Gilbert allowed Davy to use a library and well-equipped chemical laboratory, and Davy began experimenting, chiefly with gases.


Wikipedia:WikiProject History of Science/Humphry Davy Edit-a-thon - 4 May 2017

Humphry Davy (1778-1829) was one of the most famous scientific figures of his day, best known for experimenting with nitrous oxide (laughing gas), discovering several chemical elements, and inventing a miners’ safety lamp that revolutionised industry. But did you know that he was also a friend of Byron, Coleridge, and Wordsworth, and a poet himself?

Much of Wikipedia’s information about Davy needs to be improved – and you can help us achieve this! Learn new skills and meet new people during our free Wikipedia edit-a-thon. We’ll train you in how to edit a Wikipedia page, give you all the information about Davy that you’ll need, and will even provide a free lunch. We can also give you a free certificate after the event. All you need to do is bring a computer.

Professor Sharon Ruston, of the Department of English and Creative Writing, Lancaster University, is one of the co-editors of The Collected Letters of Sir Humphry Davy, which will be published by Oxford University Press in 2018.

Places are free, but limited. If you wish to attend, please reserve your place here.

  • Create a Wikipedia account beforehand - en:Special:UserLogin/signup
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  • Learn about editing if you like: Wikipedia:Tutorial, or Getting started on Wikipedia for more information

Add your Wikipedia username below.

Resources Edit

Topics Edit

If you intend to work on a topic listed below, please sign your name next to it. Where discussion of a topic already exists on Davy's page, a link to the relevant section is provided. During the edit-a-thon, you may wish to expand these existing sections, paste your draft edit into a different section, or create a new section of your own.

  1. Davy's early life (Humphry Davy#Education, apprenticeship and poetry)Harrietnewnes (talk) 10:28, 4 May 2017 (UTC)
  2. Davy's poetry (the Annual Anthology poems and 'Life') (Humphry Davy#Education, apprenticeship and poetry) (User:JNwah)
  3. Davy at the Medical Pneumatic Institution (Humphry Davy#Pneumatic Institution)
  4. Davy's involvement with Lyrical Ballads and William Wordsworth (Humphry Davy#Pneumatic Institution) Sharonruston (talk) 11:08, 4 May 2017 (UTC)
  5. Davy isolates potassium, sodium, and boron (Humphry Davy#Discovery of new elements)
  6. Davy isolates magnesium, calcium, strontium, and barium (Humphry Davy#Discovery of new elements) Pashcroft93 (talk) 10:30, 4 May 2017 (UTC)
  7. Davy demonstrates chlorine to be an element (Humphry Davy#Discovery of chlorine) User:aplacey
  8. Davy's European travels c. 1814 (Humphry Davy#European travels) HPLane (talk) 10:34, 4 May 2017 (UTC)
  9. Davy demonstrates iodine to be an element (Humphry Davy#European travels)
  10. Davy's work on the safety lamp, and the ensuing controversy 1 (Humphry Davy#Davy lamp)Pigmint (talk) 10:33, 4 May 2017 (UTC)
  11. Davy's work on the safety lamp, and the ensuing controversy 2 (Humphry Davy#Davy lamp)
  12. Davy's work on Herculaneum papyri Anoucks. (talk) 10:29, 4 May 2017 (UTC)
  13. Davy's Presidency of the Royal Society (Humphry Davy#Last years and death)Stephen Pumfrey (talk) 10:41, 4 May 2017 (UTC)
  14. Davy's work on the electrochemical protection of ships' copper bottoms User:aplacey
  15. Davy's later life (Humphry Davy#Last years and death)

Selected resources Edit

  • Amin, Wahida (2013). The Poetry and Science of Humphry Davy (PDF) (Unpublished PhD thesis, University of Salford, UK).
  • Davy, Humphry (1800). Researches, Chemical and Philosophical, Chiefly Concerning Nitrous Oxide, or Dephlogisticated Nitrous Air, and its Respiration. London, UK: J. Johnson.
  • Davy, Humphry (1808). "On Some New Phenomena of Chemical Changes Produced by Electricity". Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. 98: 1–44.
  • Davy, Humphry (1808). "Electro-Chemical Researches, on the Decomposition of the Earths". Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. 98: 333–70.
  • Davy, Humphry (1811). "On Some of the Combinations of Oxymuriatic Gas and Oxygene". Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. 101: 1–35.
  • Davy, Humphry (1814). "Some Experiments and Observations on a New Substance Which Becomes a Violet Coloured Gas by Heat". Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. 104: 74–93.
  • Davy, Humphry (1821). "Some Observations and Experiments on the Papyri Found in the Ruins of Herculaneum". Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. 111: 191–208.
  • Davy, John (1836). Memoirs of the Life of Sir Humphry Davy. Vol. 1 of 2. London, UK: Longman, Rees, Orme, Brown, Green, & Longman. |volume= has extra text (help)
  • Davy, John (1836). Memoirs of the Life of Sir Humphry Davy. Vol. 2 of 2. London, UK: Longman, Rees, Orme, Brown, Green, & Longman. |volume= has extra text (help)
  • Faraday, Michael (1991). Bowers, Brian Symons, Lenore (eds.). Curiosity Perfectly Satisfyed: Faraday's Travels in Europe, 1813-1815. London, UK: Peregrinus. ISBN9780863412349 .
  • James, Frank A. J. L. (1992). "Davy in the Dockyard: Humphry Davy, the Royal Society and the Electro-chemical Protection of the Copper Sheeting of His Majesty's Ships in the mid 1820s". Physis. 29: 205–25.
  • James, Frank A. J. L. (2005). "How Big is a Hole?: The Problems of the Practical Application of Science in the Invention of the Miners' Safety Lamp by Humphry Davy and George Stephenson in Late Regency England". Transactions of the Newcomen Society. 75: 175–227.
  • Knight, David (1992). Humphry Davy: Science and Power. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. ISBN0-631-16816-8 .
  • Lacey, Andrew (2016). "Rethinking the Distribution of Cultural Capital in the "Safety Lamp Controversy": Davy vs Stephenson in Letters to the Newcastle Press, 1816-17" (PDF) . Journal of Literature and Science. 9 (2): 1–18.
  • Miller, David Philip (1983). "Between Hostile Camps: Sir Humphry Davy's Presidency of the Royal Society of London, 1820-1827". The British Journal for the History of Science. 16 (1): 1–47.
  • Ruston, Sharon (2013). Creating Romanticism: Case Studies in the Literature, Science and Medicine of the 1790s. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN978-1-137-26428-2 .
  • Ruston, Sharon (2013). "The Art of Medicine: When Respiring Gas Inspired Poetry" (PDF) . The Lancet. 381: 366–7.
  • Sharrock, Roger (1962). "The Chemist and the Poet: Sir Humphry Davy and the Preface to Lyrical Ballads". Notes and Records of the Royal Society of London. 17 (1): 57–76.

Other useful resources Edit

  • Crouch, Laura E. (1978). "Davy's 'A Discourse, Introductory to a Course of Lectures on Chemistry': A Possible Scientific Source of 'Frankenstein ' ". Keats-Shelley Journal. 27: 35–44.
  • Fullmer, June Z. (2000). Young Humphry Davy: The Making of an Experimental Chemist. Philadelphia, USA: American Philosophical Society. ISBN0-87169-237-6 .
  • Golinski, Jan (1999). "Humphry Davy's Sexual Chemistry". Configurations. 7 (1): 15–41.
  • Golinski, Jan (2011). "Humphry Davy: The Experimental Self". Eighteenth-Century Studies. 45 (1): 15–28.
  • Hindle, Maurice (2012). "Humphry Davy and William Wordsworth: A Mutual Influence". Romanticism. 18 (1): 16–29.
  • "Interactive Timeline: Humphry Davy" (The Royal Institution of Great Britain).
  • James, Frank A. J. L. (2000). Guides to the Royal Institution of Great Britain: 1: History (PDF) . London, UK: The Royal Institution of Great Britain.
  • Jay, Mike (2009). "The Atmosphere of Heaven: The 1799 Nitrous Oxide Researches Reconsidered". Notes and Records of the Royal Society of London. 63 (3): 297–309.
  • Kipperman, Mark (1998). "Coleridge, Shelley, Davy, and Science's Millennium". Criticism. 40 (3): 409–36.
  • "Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society" (Archive of All Online Issues).
  • Siegfried, Robert Dott, R. H. (1976). "Humphry Davy as Geologist, 1805-29". The British Journal for the History of Science. 9 (2): 219–27.
  • Thomas, John Meurig (2013). "Sir Humphry Davy: Natural Philosopher, Discoverer, Inventor, Poet, and Man of Action". Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society. 157 (2): 143–63.
  • Underwood, Ted (2003). "Skepticism and Surmise in Humphry Davy". The Wordsworth Circle. 34 (2): 95–103.
  • Unwin, Patrick R. Unwin, Robert W. (2009). "Humphry Davy and the Royal Institution of Great Britain". Notes and Records of the Royal Society of London. 63 (1): 7–33.

During the event the article on Humphry Davy increased from 43 kilobytes (kb) to 64 kb, so increasing by roughly 50% of its original size. Here is a breakdown of some of the larger changes:


Chemist Humphry Davy was the first person in history to inhale laughing gas, and soon he was doing it three times a day

History has taught us that the combination of a thirst for knowledge and personal sacrifice is the most powerful force behind some of the greatest discoveries. But it appears that certain scientists in the past took this combination to a whole new level by literally risking their own lives for the sake of science.

Before American psychologist Wayne Oates coined the term “workaholic,” which in recent decades has been used to describe someone obsessively addicted to work, there were some people who truly devoted their lives to their work.

For centuries, curious scientists have used themselves as guinea pigs, often with fatal results, just to come up with a groundbreaking discovery.approach has been approved by many scientists, with the English chemist Humphry Davy being one of the most famous among them.

Davy, who is without a doubt one of the most prolific chemists to have ever lived, is the man behind the invention of the miner’s safety lamp. But he is also famous for his experiments with nitrous oxide (N2O), also known as laughing gas.

The gas was discovered in 1772 by the English scientist Joseph Priestley, who stated at the time that it was toxic, but that didn’t stop Davy, who had already experimented with other gases, to devise and use an apparatus for inhaling nitrous oxide.

All he needed to start the experiment was someone who would measure his pulse rate and intervene in case something went wrong. And what could go wrong when inhaling a gas which had been considered toxic for years? Exactly. It was his assistant, Dr. Kinglake, who took on the responsibility of releasing the first four quarts inhaled by Davy. The effects were staggering. It didn’t take long before Davy started hallucinating due to the intoxicating effects of the gas, which, as described by him, caused intense pleasure and euphoria.

He conducted more experiments on himself using different amounts of nitrous oxide with the purpose of describing the delightful experience in details:

“Generally when I breathed from six to seven quarts, muscular motions were produced to a certain extent sometimes I manifested my pleasure by stamping or laughing only, at other times by dancing round the room and vociferating.”

“Between May and July, I habitually breathed the gas, occasionally three or four times a day for a week together, the effects appeared undiminished by habit, and were hardly ever exactly similar. Sometimes I had the feeling of intense intoxication, attended with but little pleasure, at other times, sublime emotions connected with vivid ideas.”

Davy’s progress from curiosity to recreation was rapid and it seemed that he became somewhat addicted to the gas. The Public Domain Review explains that he soon started inhaling huge amounts of nitrous oxide outside of the laboratory. He took the experiments to another level when he decided again to put his own life at risk by trying to overdose himself. Luckily, it all ended well for him.

Davy lamp, wood engravings, published in 1880

The next step was to encourage his patients and friends to take part in his nitrous oxide experiments. He required that everyone records his or her experiences, some of which, including that of poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge, were posted by The Public Domain Review:

“Then I first inspired the nitrous oxide, I felt a highly pleasurable sensation of warmth over my whole frame, resembling that which I remember once to have experienced after returning from a walk in the snow into a warm room. The only motion which I felt inclined to make, was that of laughing at those who were looking at me.”

After examining the results, Davy came to a conclusion that the gas makes people laugh and that is why he called it laughing gas. His observations also led to something truly revolutionary. Namely, he discovered that apart from making people laugh, nitrous oxide has the power to ameliorate pain, which he witnessed himself when he used the gas to successfully relieve a toothache.

Although Davy noted the anesthetic effects of the gas, claiming that “it may probably be used with advantage during surgical operations in which no great effusion of blood takes place,” it took nearly 50 years before dentists started using nitrous oxide as an anesthetic.

Davy’s experiments also led to the popularization of the gas for recreational use, which in the following years became quite fashionable among wealthy people. The new craze for laughing gas reached all the way to the United States, where side-show artists toured the country giving demonstrations of the delightful effects of the laughing gas.

The risk undertaken by chemist Humphry Davy paid off as he soon managed to establish a reputation as a scientific star among chemists, which eventually led to him being elected President of the Royal Society. However, it became apparent that the sacrifices Davy had made for the sake of science took a toll on his health and he didn’t get to enjoy his fame for long, dying of a heart attack at the age of 50.


Birth of Electrochemistry

The history of electrochemistry is filled with major advances in understanding and technology that helped define both industrial production and daily life in the twenty-first century.

Alessandro Volta, inventor of the electric battery.

First battery

The story of electrochemistry begins with Alessandro Volta, who announced his invention of the voltaic pile, the first modern electrical battery, in 1800. The pile caught the imagination of even the ruler of France, Napoleon Bonaparte, who went so far as to serve as Volta’s lab assistant in November of 1801. As Volta described his recent discoveries concerning electricity to the French National Institute, the delighted Napoleon demonstrated them on a voltaic pile.

Volta’s predecessors, including Benjamin Franklin, had studied what is now called static electricity. The voltaic pile produced a continuous current and thus opened two new areas of study: the chemical production of electricity and the effects of electricity on chemicals.

Volta’s “contact” theory of electricity

Volta had built the voltaic pile to challenge Luigi Galvani’s claim to have demonstrated that animals produce electricity. According to Volta, Glavani’s results came from his use of two dissimilar metals connected by a moist conductor (a frog’s leg). Volta reproduced this configuration in his new invention, which consisted of pairs of zinc and silver disks connected by brine-soaked cardboard.

In the course of explaining his “contact” theory of electricity, Volta published one of the earliest electromotive series, which ranked metals and other substances according to the strength of their electrical effects. He placed those materials farthest apart that, when placed in contact, produced the strongest effects. Volta’s ranking bore a striking resemblance to the affinity tables that chemists had been organizing for years, tables that showed which substances would displace others in compounds. A few years later Humphry Davy would argue in his electrical theory of chemical affinities that this similarity was no coincidence.

Michael Faraday, considered to be one of the greatest scientists in history.

Davy links electricity and chemistry

Sir Humphry Davy of the Royal Institution in London was one of the most important experimenters with the new voltaic battery, He realized that the production of electricity by the voltaic pile depended on the occurrence of chemical reactions, not just on the contact of different kinds of metals, as Volta had thought. Davy used current supplied by the pile to separate compounds into their parts, discovering several new elements. His experiments led him to propose in 1806 an electrical theory of chemical affinity: since electrical current overcame the normal force that held elements together in compounds, he argued, this force must be electrical in nature.

Faraday’s “magneto-electricty” and electrolysis

Davy’s student and successor, Michael Faraday, pursued the relationship between electricity and magnetism. In the course of his research he invented the first electric motor (in 1821) and the first dynamo (in 1831). Faraday’s chief electrochemical achievement was to show that “magneto-electricity” had the same chemical effects as electricity generated in other ways. His two laws of electrochemistry, published in 1834, predict how much product results from passing a certain amount of current though a chemical compound or its solution, a process that he named “electrolysis.” These laws are still fundamental to industrial electrolytic production of metals and other chemicals.


𠆊n account of a method’

The names of Thomas Wedgwood and Humphry Davy appear in virtually every history of photography as two of the medium's earliest would-be practitioners. However, despite the prominence given to them as pioneers, these histories tend to provide little information on the nature of their experiments and even less on the context in which they were made. The consensus seems to be that, although important in genealogical terms, Wedgwood and Davy's attempts at photography were ultimately a failure and therefore not worthy of extended consideration. It is time to reform this view. For a start, the manner of their failure provides a rare glimpse into the problems facing all potential photographers in the pre-1839 period. More than that, an examination of the context that gave rise to their experiments provides a fascinating insight into the intellectual and cultural conditions that allowed, first, the conception, and, later, the actual invention of this phenomenon that came to be called photography.


Humphry Davy Science and Power

This title is not currently available for examination. However, if you are interested in the title for your course we can consider offering an examination copy. To register your interest please contact [email protected] providing details of the course you are teaching.

In this illuminating and entertaining biography David Knight draws upon Humphry Davy's poetry, notebooks and informal writings to introduce us to one of the first professional scientists. Davy is best remembered for his work on laughing gas, for the arc lamp, for isolating sodium and potassium, for his theory that chemical affinity is electrical and, of course, for his safety lamp. His lectures on science made the fortunes of the Royal Institution in London, and he taught chemistry to the young Faraday. He is also recognized for his poetry and was the friend of Coleridge, Wordsworth and Byron. By investigating Davy's life Knight shows what it was like to be a creative scientist in Regency England, demonstrating the development of science and its institutions during this crucial period in history.

  • Encompasses all of Davy's multifaceted activities emphasises lectures, popular writings, and poetry as well as prose and research
  • Vividly depicts what it was like to be a creative scientist in Regency England
  • Covers the relationship between Davy and Faraday

Humphry Davy Science and Power

If you are interested in the title for your course we can consider offering an examination copy. To register your interest please contact [email protected] providing details of the course you are teaching.

In this illuminating and entertaining biography David Knight draws upon Humphry Davy's poetry, notebooks and informal writings to introduce us to one of the first professional scientists. Davy is best remembered for his work on laughing gas, for the arc lamp, for isolating sodium and potassium, for his theory that chemical affinity is electrical and, of course, for his safety lamp. His lectures on science made the fortunes of the Royal Institution in London, and he taught chemistry to the young Faraday. He is also recognized for his poetry and was the friend of Coleridge, Wordsworth and Byron. By investigating Davy's life Knight shows what it was like to be a creative scientist in Regency England, demonstrating the development of science and its institutions during this crucial period in history.

  • Encompasses all of Davy's multifaceted activities emphasises lectures, popular writings, and poetry as well as prose and research
  • Vividly depicts what it was like to be a creative scientist in Regency England
  • Covers the relationship between Davy and Faraday

Humphry Davy - History bibliographies - in Harvard style

Your Bibliography: Amhistory.si.edu. 2015. [online] Available at: <http://amhistory.si.edu/ogmt/images/upload/mining-lights-and-hats/MINERS.jpg> [Accessed 25 February 2015].

BBC - A History of the World - Object : Humprhy Davy's miners' safety lamp

In-text: (BBC - A History of the World - Object : Humprhy Davy's miners' safety lamp, 2015)

Your Bibliography: Bbc.co.uk. 2015. BBC - A History of the World - Object : Humprhy Davy's miners' safety lamp. [online] Available at: <http://www.bbc.co.uk/ahistoryoftheworld/objects/g2qOTFtvQkGU35dJ_9QH8w> [Accessed 23 February 2015].

BBC - History - Sir Humphry Davy

In-text: (BBC - History - Sir Humphry Davy, 2015)

Your Bibliography: Bbc.co.uk. 2015. BBC - History - Sir Humphry Davy. [online] Available at: <http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/historic_figures/davy_humphrey.shtml> [Accessed 23 February 2015].

Bellis, M.

Meet Humphry Davy: Inventor of the Electric Lamp

In-text: (Bellis, 2015)

Your Bibliography: Bellis, M., 2015. Meet Humphry Davy: Inventor of the Electric Lamp. [online] About.com Money. Available at: <http://inventors.about.com/od/dstartinventors/a/Humphry_Davy.htm> [Accessed 23 February 2015].

In-text: (2015)

Your Bibliography: Biography.com. 2015. [online] Available at: <http://www.biography.com/people/humphry-davy-9268399> [Accessed 23 February 2015].

In-text: (2015)

Your Bibliography: Christchurchfelling.org. 2015. [online] Available at: <http://www.christchurchfelling.org/wp-content/history_images/1812_mining_disaster.jpg> [Accessed 25 February 2015].

David Harris, W.

Miner's lamp

In-text: (David Harris, 2015)

Your Bibliography: David Harris, w., 2015. Miner's lamp. [online] England.prm.ox.ac.uk. Available at: <http://england.prm.ox.ac.uk/englishness-Miners-lamp.html> [Accessed 23 February 2015].

Sir Humphry Davy Facts, information, pictures | Encyclopedia.com articles about Sir Humphry Davy

In-text: (Sir Humphry Davy Facts, information, pictures | Encyclopedia.com articles about Sir Humphry Davy, 2015)

Your Bibliography: Encyclopedia.com. 2015. Sir Humphry Davy Facts, information, pictures | Encyclopedia.com articles about Sir Humphry Davy. [online] Available at: <http://www.encyclopedia.com/topic/Sir_Humphry_Davy.aspx> [Accessed 23 February 2015].

Kids.Net.Au - Encyclopedia > Davy lamp

In-text: (Kids.Net.Au - Encyclopedia > Davy lamp, 2015)

Your Bibliography: Encyclopedia.kids.net.au. 2015. Kids.Net.Au - Encyclopedia > Davy lamp. [online] Available at: <http://encyclopedia.kids.net.au/page/da/Davy_lamp> [Accessed 23 February 2015].

Humphry Davy - Biography, Facts and Pictures

In-text: (Humphry Davy - Biography, Facts and Pictures, 2015)

Your Bibliography: Famousscientists.org. 2015. Humphry Davy - Biography, Facts and Pictures. [online] Available at: <http://www.famousscientists.org/humphry-davy/> [Accessed 23 February 2015].

In-text: (2015)

Your Bibliography: Healeyhero.co.uk. 2015. [online] Available at: <http://www.healeyhero.co.uk/rescue/reminise/pics/Felling25Colliery.jpg> [Accessed 25 February 2015].

Famous Scientists - Sir Humphry Davy

In-text: (Famous Scientists - Sir Humphry Davy, 2015)

Your Bibliography: Humantouchofchemistry.com. 2015. Famous Scientists - Sir Humphry Davy. [online] Available at: <http://www.humantouchofchemistry.com/sir-humphry-davy.htm> [Accessed 23 February 2015].

Safety Lamp History

In-text: (Safety Lamp History, 2015)

Your Bibliography: Minerslamps.net. 2015. Safety Lamp History. [online] Available at: <http://www.minerslamps.net/homepage/safetylamphistory.htm> [Accessed 23 February 2015].

BBC - 100 years of Humphry Davy School

In-text: (BBC - 100 years of Humphry Davy School, 2015)

Your Bibliography: News.bbc.co.uk. 2015. BBC - 100 years of Humphry Davy School. [online] Available at: <http://news.bbc.co.uk/local/cornwall/hi/people_and_places/religion_and_ethics/newsid_8473000/8473973.stm> [Accessed 25 February 2015].

Humphry Davy's miners' safety lamp | The Royal Institution: Science Lives Here

In-text: (Humphry Davy's miners' safety lamp | The Royal Institution: Science Lives Here, 2015)


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