(September 6, 1766 – July 27, 1844)

Celebrated for his atomic theory, which ushered-in particle physics and nuclear chemistry, John Dalton was one of the most influential chemists of the 19th century. His scientific debut was as a meteorologist: a profession he learned by assisting Elihu Robinson in both weather forecasting and instrument making. Although his treatise titled Meteorological Observations and Essays barely circulated, he kept faith in his studies: using what he observed to maintain weather records for nearly 60 years. Dalton also worked for a while as a math tutor. It was while on this job at the New College in Manchester that he researched on deuteranopia (a red-green type of colorblindness which ran in his family and afflicted him and his older brother, Jonathan). His treatise, titled Extraordinary Facts relating to the Vision of Colours, with Observation, was the first scientific publication to address this genetic defect. As a result of his pioneering research, this type of colorblindness is referred to as Daltonism. Having always been fascinated by the components and behavior of matter, he experimented with gases at various temperatures and pressures. His inferences led him to what became known as Dalton’s Law of Partial Pressures. Further works helped him come-up with the Law of Multiple Proportion. And his overall experiences convinced him that chemical reactions entail the aggregate unions of tiny reactants, which he called atoms. His atomic theory that helped lay the foundations of modern chemistry was thus entrenched. Although his postulations were later modified, their underlying insights remained inspiring.

10 Comments

  1. I’m a bit old-school, so I’m enjoying the historicals more than the scientific perspectives. Wonderful website I must say.

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