Sir James Dewar, 1842-1923: A Ruthless Chemist by J.S. Rowlinson

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By J.S. Rowlinson

Sir James Dewar was once a tremendous determine in British chemistry for round forty years. He held the posts of Jacksonian Professor of usual Philosophy at Cambridge (1875-1923) and Fullerian Professor of Chemistry on the Royal establishment (1877-1923) and is remembered mostly for his efforts to liquefy hydrogen effectively within the box that might emerge as referred to as cryogenics. His experiments during this box led him to advance the vacuum flask, now probably often called the thermos, and in 1898 he used to be the 1st individual to effectively liquefy hydrogen. a guy of many pursuits, he was once additionally, with Frederick Abel, the inventor of explosive cordite, an success that concerned him in an incredible felony conflict with Alfred Nobel. certainly, Dewar's occupation observed him desirous about a few public quarrels with fellow scientists; he was once a fierce and infrequently unscrupulous defender of his rights and his claims to precedence in a fashion that throws a lot gentle at the clinical spirit and perform of his day. This, the 1st scholarly biography of Dewar, seeks to resurrect and reinterpret a guy who used to be a massive of his time, yet is now unfortunately neglected. In so doing, the e-book will shed a lot new gentle at the clinical tradition of the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries and the advance of the sector of chemistry in Britain.

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A surface heated to produce a temperature gradient along it induces a flow of gas from the colder to hotter region, a phenomenon known as ‘thermal creep’. In a radiometer the gas creeps from the outer edges of the black side of the vane towards the centre where it piles up since its viscosity prevents its instantaneous dispersion. The resulting small increase in pressure drives the vane back. 47 One difficult experiment of Dewar’s Edinburgh years was seriously in error. This work was done with William Dittmar,48 an inorganic and analytical chemist for whom Dewar had a high regard, reinforced by the great emphasis both placed on facts and their distrust of ‘speculation’.

8 Dewar was not alone in his attitude to the work of his assistants; when Crookes wanted to publish a translation of a German work on hygiene he asked his assistant, James Gardiner, to undertake it. Gardiner was a man with a London MA and was a Fellow of the Chemical Society, but Crookes published the work under his own name only. 9 Dewar and Ruhemann fell out at an interview held on 1 December 1890, and Dewar wrote to him on 7 December to say ‘that having regard to all the interests involved I can see no other way out of the difficulty.

In 1896 he left to become science master at Epsom College, a school noted for the strength of its science side, but within the year Dewar recalled him and appointed him Jacksonian Demonstrator. He assigned Spivey to the same class that Scott had taught, that in advanced organic chemistry, ‘in which subject his very wide reading and his extraordinarily methodical mind enabled him to arrange the vast amount of information in his lectures in an orderly, logical, and systematic manner which was of the greatest benefit to his pupils’.

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