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By J. R. Partington

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I ll, p. ® In 1800* Davy said: ‘I beg to be considered as a sceptic with regard to my own particular theory of the combinations of light, and theories of light in general. ’ But in his last work (X, in XI, ix, 331) he returned to his old abandoned theory. ® Nitrous Oxide In his work on the respiration of gases in Bristol Davy (see p. 30) particu­ larly investigated the gas he first named nitrous oxide (NjO). ) Davy’s researches were published as II (p. 35). S. L . Mitchill (see Vol. I ll, p. ), and the respiration of hydrogen (difficult), oxygen, and nitrogen mixed with a little carbon dioxide.

In 1806, however,’ he abandoned the chemical theory in favour of Volta’s contact theory. , in his will, dated July 1763, in which he bequeathed the interest ‘to be appUed for an oration or discourse to be read or spoken yearly’. * Davy gave a succession of Bakerian Lectures from 1806 to 1810. The fkst, read on 20 November 1806,® gave him a European reputation and gained h im the minor prize of 3000 francs foimded by Napoleon when First Consul, although England and France were then at war. , 1800-1, iv, 275, 3 3 7 , 3 9 4 ; 1802, v, 341; X I, ii, 139,150,155,163,166, 181.

6B and purified water in the two outer vessels at higher levels. He found that on passing a current acid and alkali collected in the outer vessels. He thought that minerals were formed in the earth by electric currents. By passing a current through a solution of muriates of iron, copper, tin, and cobalt in one vessel and distilled water in another vessel connected by asbestos, the four oxide$ passed along the asbestos and into the negative tube and arranged themselves in a mixed state in it. Davy’s principal reasons for preferring the contact theory were: (i) electri­ fication actually arises by contact and is sometimes more pronoimced the greater are the precautions taken to prevent chemical changes; (2) very vigorous chemical changes can occur without the slightest development of electrification.

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A History of Chemistry by J. R. Partington


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