John Dalton

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Scientific Biographies
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John Dalton

In 1803 Dalton created the first chart of atomic weights in an article he wrote for Manchester Literary and Philosophical Society. While he is trying to expand his theory he readdresses the subject of atomic weight in his book A New System of Chemical Philosophy, published in 1808.

His atomic theories were quickly accepted by the scientific community largely with few rejections. Nobel Laureate Professor Sir Harry Kroto,who is credited for co-discovering spherical carbon fullerenes, noticed the revolutionary effect of Dalton's discoveries on the field of chemistry: "The crucial step was to write down elements in terms of their atoms...I don't know how they could do chemistry beforehand, it didn't make any sense."

While at New College, Dalton joined the Manchester Literary and Philosophical Society. Having membership gained him access to laboratory facilities. For his first research project,Dalton did it about meteorology. His research findings on atmospheric pressure was published in his first book, Meteorological Findings. Dalton's interest in atmospheric pressures eventually led him to a better look at gases. He developed a gas law called "Dalton Law".

-BACKGROUND-John Dalton was a British chemist that was born in Sept. 6 1766 into Quaker family in Eaglesfield, England. His father Joseph was a weaver that married to Deborah Greenup in 1755. Dalton was the youngest out of three children that made it to adulthood.

Chemist:John Dalton

The mentors were also amateur meteorologists, and from them Dalton gained the basic understanding of using meteorologic instruments and keeping a daily weather record. Dalton had an interest in meteorologic measurement for the rest of his life. After four years, Dalton became principle until 1793, that's when he became a math and philosophy tutor at the New College in Manchester.

In A New System of Chemical Philosophy, Dalton wrote about his experiments proving that atoms mostly combine in ratios. In 1810 Dalton published an appendix to A New System of Chemical Philosophy that said atoms within a given element may be the same size and weight but are different from each other. Dalton eventually made a table listing the atomic weight of all known elements.

In his book he talks about how he beleives that atoms of different elements could be seperated based on their varying atomic weights. Doing this he became trhe first scientist to explain the behavior of atoms in terms of the measurement of weight; he also found the fact that atoms cannot be destroyed or created.

Two years later they bought a school in Kendal where they taught around 60 students. While he was a teacher he encountered two mentors: Elihu Robinson and John Gough who was a mathematical and classical scholar in Kendal. Because of the mentors, Dalton was able to gain the basics of mathematics, Greek and Latin.

-GREATEST DISCOVERY-Dalton's fascination with gases eventaully led him to beleive that every form of matter (solid, liquid or gas) was made up of small particles. Referring to the Greek philosopher Democritus, he borrowed the term "atomos" or "atoms" to label the particles.

-EDUCATION-Dalton attended a school called John Fletcher's Quaker grammar school in Eaglesfield. When Dalton was 12 years old, Fletcher turned the school over to his older brother Jonathon; his brother asked him to assist him on teaching.


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