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 Britain, 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
Acknowledgements; General Editor's Preface; Introduction; 1. Beginning: the Meaning of Life; 2. Growing up; 3. Clifton; 4. The Bright Day; 5. Electric affinity; 6. Forces, powers and chemistry; 7. A Chemical Honeymoon, in France; 8. The Safety Lamp; 9. A Son in Science: Davy and Faraday; 10. President; 11. Salmonia; 12. Consolations; Notes; Select bibliography; Index.
'… absorbing and so beautifully written … it is indeed rare to encounter a text that at one and the same time represents a major piece of scholarship and yet is notably accessible, illuminating and entertaining.' Dr B. Dixon, New Scientist
'I highly recommend this book. Knight has vividly depicted the life and times of the greatest creative scientist in Regency Britain along with the development of science and its institutions during this crucial historical period.' George B. Kauffman, Chemistry and Industry