The following is the essay that won Alice McDaniels
the 2012 ICSSA Scholarship Award.
Many times, when thinking of what makes life these days easier
and more comfortable, generally people think of the computer,
medicine, cars, air conditioners and their portable music players.
The last thing people think of is science, specifically chemistry.
But without chemistry, there would be no computer processors to
get work done and spread news, no advanced medicine to heal
sick family members or provide necessary nutrients to people in
need, no functioning combustion engine for cars to get people to
work or to the doctor, no air conditioners to cool people off in the
summer, and no luxury of music at hand. Each one of these
inventions requires the perfect balance between chemicals,
gases, pressure, and electrons to function at all. If it hadn't been
for Robert Boyle, who studied and advocated the spread of
scientific knowledge, then the luxuries and technology we have
today would not exist.
Robert Boyle made a huge contribution to better humanity
through his passion, dedication, and interest in science and
chemistry. Throughout his life he made countless contributions
to the study of science. He's most famous for one of the three
ideal gas laws, which he proved with his partner Hooke in 1675.
(Group, 2001) Boyle's law states that at a constant temperature,
a gas's pressure and volume are inversely proportional.
(Group, 2001)This gas law is now taught in every basic chemistry
class around the world, and is a fundamental concept in
engineering. Boyle also developed the modern scientific process
of doing controlled experiments that collect and analyze data to
draw conclusions. (Group, 2001) He also contributed to
maturing the concepts of atoms, elements and molecules, and
applying his new definition of an element to disprove theories of
alchemy (Cobb, 2005). He also used his knowledge and
experimentation to show that sound needs air as a medium to
be heard and developed the litmus test to delineate if something
is an acid or a base. (Famous Scientists) Most importantly,
Robert Boyle helped the world see that science has equations,
measurements and laws as firm as mathematics, and lifted
science from being seen as magic into something quantitative
It can be argued that as Robert Boyle's passion for science
and knowledge grew, so did his sphere of influence; from none, to
almost the entire world. When Boyle was a young man he had no
influence over anyone. Boyle spent the early years of his life in
Ireland learning Irish, Latin, Greek and French (Famous Scientists).
As a young child, as was ancient Irish tradition, Boyle was fostered
out to a local Irish family. When he was about 8 years old, he
moved to study in England at Eton College, where he was tutored
in history and science. (Famous Scientists) It was during this time
that his fascination grew and he was compelled to learn more.
When he was 15 years old, he decided to tour Europe with his
teacher and brother to further his studies, where he became
intrigued with Galileo Galilei's theories and science.(Robert Boyle
Life and Legacy).
Boyle's sphere of influence first became noticeable when
he was about 28 years old. He started to meet with a group of
fellow scientists: Moray, Wilkens, and Wren (Robert Boyle Life
and Legacy). At first, they were called the Invisible College and
would meet to talk about science, philosophy and experiments
(Royal Society). Their meetings mainly benefited themselves;
motivating each other to push forward their new ideas in a time
that wasn't accepting of science and philosophy.
After several years, Boyles influence grew when the
Invisible College appealed to King Charles II for permission to
form a scientific group called the Royal Society (Royal Society).
This group soon expanded to more great minds of the scientific
world and advocates (Royal Society). This new group's main
goal was to spread the knowledge and love of science to every
person. They did this by publishing books on different topics,
including Boyle's very own Sceptical Chymist, which concluded
the element to be the limit to chemical analysis and recognized
the importance of his findings to be brought to the attention to
fellow scientists (Group, 2001) (Royal Society).
Other great scientist including Lavoisier and Proust were
influenced by Boyle (Knight, 2002). They were able to expand
upon Boyles' identification and concepts of elements, atoms, and
molecules to advance the knowledge of chemistry and make their
own important discoveries and contributions to science (Knight,
2002) (jCobb, 2005). By influencing other eager scientists, Boyle
created a lasting ripple effect that is still seen today. Without
influencing other scientists, or working with Hooke,
chemistry and the study of science would not be the same. At the
time, Lavoisier and Proust were young men whose interest was
piqued at just the right time. (Knight, 2002) They became some
of the best chemists of their time and in turn made great
discoveries with heat, combustion and chemical compounds
(Weisstein, 1996) (American Chemical Society)(Britannica
Encyclopedia). These two people alone influenced other great
scientists who made important contributions to the advancements
to science themselves. This ripple effect through science now
enables other people to learn and become engineers and
scientists to help advance the human race.
Although Boyle is not alive to directly influence the
scientific world, he has left a lasting legacy. If it weren't for
his fearless advocacy, there would be no Royal Society, or maybe
even not as many great scientists. Over the years, countless
numbers of science foundations and organizations geared
specifically towards spreading knowledge to others have been
formed since Boyles death.
Since childhood, Robert Boyle had been interested in
science. The careful tutoring he received only sculpted his talent
as an thinker, inventor and scientist and gave him an insatiable
yearning to share his love for science. The Royal Society helped
Boyle substantiate a vision of spreading scientific knowledge and
truth to every person who wished to learn. As Boyle grew older,
he shaped his own talent through his experiments and in turn,
shared them with the world by publishing many books. Through
his publications, he was able to influence many other great
scientists, creating a ripple effect through history. Now, Boyle's
law and discovers are still used today and have helped shape the
world we live in.
"Welcome to the Royal Society." The Royal Society: Welcome.
N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Mar. 2013. royalsociety.org.
"Famous Scientists Robert Boyle." Famous Scientists Robert
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Weisstein, Eric W. "Lavoisier, Antoine (17431794)."
Wolfram Research. World of Biography, 1996. Web. 28 Mar. 2013.
"JosephLouis Proust (French Chemist)." Encyclopedia Britannica
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Knight, Judson. Science of Everyday Things. N.p.: Scholar
Info Group, 2002. Print.
Cobb, Cathy. The Joy of Chemistry: The Amazing Science
of Familiar Things. N.p.: n.p., 2005. Print.
The Diagram Group. Facts on File Science Library. N.p.:
n.p., 2001. Print.