For learning. For inspiration. Or just for fun.
King George III (1760-1820) to Queen Victoria (1837-1901)
John Dalton : At fifteen John Dalton was a village schoolmaster in Kendal; at forty he had published the first scientific theory of atoms.
John Dalton

John Dalton (1766-1844) and his contemporary Sir Humphrey Davy could not have been less alike. Davy was a gifted communicator with an international profile; Dalton was tongue-tied and uncomfortable south of Cheshire. But both made historic discoveries, and where Davy left us Faraday, Dalton gave us Joule.

JOHN Dalton, a weaver’s boy, began his teaching career at fifteen, helping his elder brother to run a Quaker school in Kendal. He deepened his education by contributing maths problems to The Ladies’ Diary,* and reading scientific works to Kendal’s distinguished natural philosopher John Gough, who was blind, in exchange for lessons in Latin and Greek.

At twenty-seven, Dalton took up a post as a lecturer in mathematics in Manchester.* His interests included colour-blindness, from which he suffered himself and of which he gave the first detailed description; the pressure and expansion of gases, contributing Dalton’s Law of Partial Pressures and tutoring James Joule;* and meteorology, climbing and mapping Cumbria’s mountains for his measurements.

In 1805, Dalton made history with the first scientific theory of the atom and relative atomic weights, and in 1808 added Dalton’s Law of Multiple Proportions.* He was rewarded with Fellowships at the Royal Society and the French Academy of Sciences, and his work remains the basis of modern chemistry.

* See our story The Ladies’ Diary.

* As he was a Quaker and not a member of the Church of England, Dalton was barred by the Test Acts from holding office in Britain’s only recognised Universities, Oxford and Cambridge. However, other Dissenters had set up a rival, private and very distinguished Academy at Warrington in Cheshire, which by the time Dalton joined had reformed as Manchester New College. A few years after the repeal of the Test Acts in 1871, the college settled in Oxford, and is now called Harris Manchester College.

* Visit Wikipedia for Dalton’s Law of Partial Pressures. James Joule (1818-1889) was a brewer who made historic contributions to the science of heat and energy; the SI derived unit of energy, the joule, is named after him.

* Visit Wikipedia for Relative atomic mass and Dalton’s Law of Multiple Proportions. The unified atomic mass unit is the dalton.

More like this

Discovery and Invention (66) Enterprise in Education (8) Science and Scientists (18) Georgian Era (111) History (405)

Picture: Via Wikimedia Commons. Licence: Public domain. View original
John Dalton (1766-1844), from ‘Some Apostles of Physiology’ (1902), by William Stirling. Dalton was included because he taught Pharmaceutical Chemistry at Manchester’s Pine Street School of Medicine, which the author regarded as the city’s first proper medical school.
Next
By Sir Humphry Davy
(1778-1829)

Amazon Books

Featured Music

Letters Game

Make words from two or more of the tiles below. What is the highest-scoring word you can make?

Press enter or type a space to see feedback on your word.

More like this: High Tiles Games with Words

Numbers Game

Work across from the number on the left, applying each arithmetical operation to the previous answer. What’s the final total?

Tip: Click any of the four inner squares to check your running total.

More like this: Maths Steps (Mental Arithmetic Game) Mental Arithmetic

Selected Stories
By William Shakespeare
(1564-1616)
Viola tries to tell Orsino, Duke of Illyria, that his beloved Olivia is not the only woman deserving of his attention.
British expats in Valparaíso kicked off the Chilean passion for soccer.
By Leslie Howard
(1893-1943)
In a Christmas broadcast in 1940, actor Leslie Howard explained why British sovereignty was worth fighting for.
The legend of how Rome was settled gave rise to the March festival of Roman motherhood.
Based on ‘The Lives of the Desert Fathers’
(4th century)
A monk of the Egyptian desert helped a desperate mother, and was richly rewarded.
Based on the play by William Shakespeare
(1564-1616)
Parted from his beloved Julia, Proteus follows his friend Valentine to Milan, where he meets the bewitching Silvia.