Henry Cavendish

Henry Cavendish

Henry Cavendish

Birth : 10 October 1731 Nice,Kingdom of Sardinia

Death : 24 February 1810(1810-02-24)(aged 78) London, England,United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland

Personal Information

Name Henry Cavendish
Birth 10 October 1731 Nice,Kingdom of Sardinia
Birth Place Nice,Kingdom of Sardinia
Death (1810-02-24)(aged 78) London, England,United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
Died At London, England,United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
Nationality British
Alma Mater Peterhouse, Cambridge
Fields Chemistry,physics
Institution Royal Institution)
Famous Research Discovery ofhydrogen Measuring the Earth's density (Cavendish experiment)

Word Cloud

Events Occured in Scienctist Life


Henry Cavendish was born on 10 October 1731 in Nice, where his family was living at the time.


Henry's mother died in 1733, three months after the birth of her second son, Frederick, and shortly before Henry's second birthday, leaving Lord Charles Cavendish to bring up his two sons.


At the age of 18 (on 24 November 1748) he entered the University of Cambridge in St Peter's College, now known as Peterhouse, but left three years later on 23 February 1751 without taking a degree (at the time, a common practice).


In 1758, he took Henry to meetings of the Royal Society and also to dinners of the Royal Society Club.


In 1760, Henry Cavendish was elected to both these groups, and he was assiduous in his attendance after that.


He was active in the Council of the Royal Society of London (to which he was elected in 1765).


His first paper, Factitious Airs, appeared in 1766.


In 1773, Henry joined his father as an elected trustee of the British Museum, to which he devoted a good deal of time and effort.


In 1777, Cavendish discovered that air exhaled by mammals is converted to "fixed air" (carbon dioxide), not "phlogisticated air" as predicted by Joseph Priestley.


He concluded in his 1778 paper "General Considerations on Acids" that respirable air constitutes acidity.


In 1783, Cavendish published a paper on eudiometry (the measurement of the goodness of gases for breathing).


Cavendish reported his findings to Priestley no later than March 1783, but did not publish them until the following year.


The Scottish inventor James Watt published a paper on the composition of water in 1783; controversy about who made the discovery first ensued.


In 1785, Cavendish investigated the composition of common (i.e. atmospheric) air, obtaining impressively accurate results.


In the 1890s (around 100 years later) two British physicists, William Ramsay and Lord Rayleigh, realised that their newly discovered inert gas, argon, was responsible for Cavendish's problematic residue; he had not made an error.


In 1787, he became one of the earliest outside France to convert to the new antiphlogistic theory of Lavoisier, though he remained sceptical about the nomenclature of the new theory.


Working within the framework of Newtonian mechanism, Cavendish had tackled the problem of the nature of heat in the 1760s, explaining heat as the result of the motion of matter.


In 1783, he published a paper on the temperature at which mercury freezes and in that paper made use of the idea of latent heat, although he did not use the term because he believed that it implied acceptance of a material theory of heat.


He went on to develop a general theory of heat, and the manuscript of that theory has been persuasively dated to the late 1780s.


The most famous of those experiments, published in 1798, was to determine the density of the Earth and became known as the Cavendish experiment.


The first time that the constant got this name was in 1873, almost 100 years after the Cavendish experiment, but the constant was in use since the time of Newton.


Lord Charles Cavendish died in 1783, leaving almost all of his very substantial estate to Henry.


He published an early version of his theory in 1771, based on an expansive electrical fluid that exerted pressure.


Cavendish wrote papers on electrical topics for the Royal Society but the bulk of his electrical experiments did not become known until they were collected and published by James Clerk Maxwell a century later, in 1879, long after other scientists had been credited with the same results.


Cavendish's electrical papers from the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London have been reprinted, together with most of his electrical manuscripts, in The Scientific Papers of the Honourable Henry Cavendish, F.R.S. (1921).


According to the 1911 edition of Encyclopædia Britannica, among Cavendish's discoveries were the concept of electric potential (which he called the "degree of electrification"), an early unit of capacitance (that of a sphere one inch in diameter), the formula for the capacitance of a plate capacitor, the concept of the dielectric constant of a material, the relationship between electric potential and current (now called Ohm's Law) (1781), laws for the division of current in parallel circuits (now attributed to Charles Wheatstone), and the inverse square law of variation of electric force with distance, now called Coulomb's Law.


Death Cavendish died at Clapham on 24 February 1810 (as one of the wealthiest men in Britain) and was buried, along with many of his ancestors, in the church that is now Derby Cathedral.


The University of Cambridge's Cavendish Laboratory was endowed by one of Cavendish's later relatives, William Cavendish, 7th Duke of Devonshire (Chancellor of the University from 1861 to 1891).


A manuscript "Heat", tentatively dated between 1783 and 1790, describes a "mechanical theory of heat".


Selected writings Cavendish, Henry (1921).


The Experimental Life (Second revised edition 2016), Christa Jungnickel and Russell McCormmach, Max Planck Research Library for the History and Development of Knowledge, 2016,