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The Chemical Educator

ISSN: 1430-4171 (electronic version)

Table of Contents

Abstract Volume 17 (2012) pp 086-093
DOI 10.1007/s00897122420a

Robert Boyle (1627–1691), The “Sceptical Chymist,” on the 350th Anniversary of Boyle’s Law

George B. Kauffman* and Jean-Pierre Adloff

Department of Chemistry, California State University, Fresno, Fresno, CA 93740-8034,; Honorary Professor, Université de Strasbourg, Strasbourg, France F-67100,

Published: 8 June 2012

Abstract. The year 2012 marks the 350th anniversary of Boyle’s Law (1662), which states that at constant temperature the volume of a gas varies inversely proportional to its pressure. The history of significant scientific events during the 17th century are reviewed, followed by a description of Robert Boyle’s life, contributions to science and theology, and career. His seminal and most cited book, The Sceptical Chymist (1661), written in the form of a dialogue, in which he proposed the modern definition of an element, marked the beginning of modern chemistry free of the preoccupations of the alchemists and iatrochemistry. He established the annual Boyle Lectures, relating science and Christianity, still held today.

Key Words: Chemistry and History; History of Chemistry; History of Physics; Biography; Gas Laws; Boyle’s Law; Charles’ Law; Avogadro’s Law; Combined Gas Law; Ideal Gas Law; Boyle Lectures; Definition of an Element.

(*) Corresponding author. (E-mail:

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