R. Boyle’s Dreams of Greatness and His Road to Obtaining it


Robert Boyle had a curious mind and he set it to rigorous work

Boyle’s Law is one of the ideal gas laws in chemistry. It states that pressure and volume are inversely proportional when temperature is kept constant in a closed system. This law is named after Robert Boyle.

Born on the January 25, 1627, Robert was the 14th child and the 7th son of Richard Boyle, the 1st Earl of Cork and Catherine Fenton. Just like his siblings, he was sent away from their Irish estate, Lismore, and into common family. His father was intent on not spoiling any of his children. Robert, age 3, barely knew his mother when she had died. Growing up he had chosen important things which he cultivated as he went on through life.

Integrity

When he was 5 he was taken back to Lismore to begin his education. One unusual characteristic of his was that he had proven himself as notably truthful even as a child. The pain of punishment was better than to lie. An incident him being accused of eating less of a prohibited fruit lead to him hotly contesting the correct number.

This dedication to telling the truth is seen in how accurately he released his experiment details and also in how he questioned the methods alchemists of their time made scientific claims.

“Purposivity”

When he was 8 he was sent to Eton, along with an older brother, for formal education. Here, under the tutelage of Mr. Harrison, he was eventually allowed to skip out on classes because Mr. Harrison thought that Robert would be impeded and bored by regular classes. A love of study was evident in the young Boyle as he had to be pulled away from his books to exercise and play with other boys. When Mr. Harrison left and was replaced by a teacher who enforced strict attendance, Robert began to lose interest in the assigned subjects and began to look into history. It is here that he began to long for doing great things and not just being a fantasizer.He then chose to start by working difficult math problems mentally.

Through his study of history he gained a sense of wanting to become someone who did great things. There was also a realization that he would only be a daydreamer if he did not do something about his dream. Everything he did and learned had now come under the purpose of preparing him for great things. He said yes to learning how to dissect animals and learning human anatomy and no to being part of “The Invisibles” during his stay in Oxford. He had no interest in being part of the “gown men” but instead  sought out a skilled tutor to teach him in the properties of chemicals.

Creativity

Harnessing his longing to do something great and wielding it through the skills he had accumulated and honed. He used his curious and questioning mind as he observed that air behaved differently from liquids. It did not form layers like oil, water and gasoline depending on the density of the liquid but was homogeneous instead. He began to create experiments and apply systematic and well documented approach in performing them as well as revealing the data. He with his assistant Robert Hooke made an improved version of a vacuum pump to fit their experiments.

43 experiments were made on gases and the results are similar to what modern chemists use and teach. His book, The Skeptical Chymist brought the legitimacy of alchemy to an end and ushered in Modern Chemistry. Yet his endeavors were not limited to science alone. He was also a philosopher as he argued from natural philosophy. He had theological writings and his novels were best sellers in their time.

To End

Being born of aristocracy and yet knowing that a life of wealth had no use if he did not do something with purpose. Integrity, purposivity and creativity are needed now in the modern world. Questions that answer to a need must be made so that creative and honest solutions would result. Robert Boyle’s unusual rigor in doing things the best way he knew how now ends with his name being perpetuated in chemistry classes the world over. Indeed he had done something great in his lifetime.

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