John Dalton biography

John Dalton (Eaglesfield, United Kingdom, 6 September 1766 – Manchester, United Kingdom, 26 July 1844). Educator, Meteorologist, Scientist and Chemist of English origin, recognized for enacting Atomic Theory, laying the foundations modern chemistry.


Among his many contributions are also the Partial Pressures Act, as well as the explanation of the formation of dew, the identification of the magnetic character of the Northern Lights and the first scientific description of the visual condition of Daltonism.

John Dalton changed the Chemistry forever, contributing the concept of the atom and its qualities, thus opening a new chapter in Science and paving the way for the atomic age of the twentieth century, which would have been impossible without its discovery, which is why it is catalogued also as one of the most important scientists in history.

Early life

John Dalton was born on 6 September 1766, in Eaglesfield, United Kingdom, to a very humble Quaker family. His father was engaged in agriculture and attending a small cloth business, owned by him.

He attended the Quaker school at Pardshow Hall, where his teacher instilled in him very good academic bases and sowed in him curiosity and a desire for knowledge. He also counted as a mentor with a wealthy Quaker named Elihu Robinson, who was also interested in his education, and motivated him to study Mathematics and Meteorology.

In 1778, when he was just twelve years old, John Dalton opened, in Eaglesfield, a school, where he had students older than him. However, two years later, he was forced to close the school to devote himself to the cultivation of the field.

In 1781, with his brother, he served as an assistant to Kendall School. Some time later, Dalton and his brother decided to open their own school, which came to have sixty students, who received twenty-one subjects of Science and Mathematics, as well as Latin, Greek, English and French.

Color blindness

In 1792, at the age of twenty-six, he made a surprising discovery about himself, when he gave his mother a pair of blue stockings, surprising herself at her question about the scarlet colour of the garment, which she considered unsuitable for a woman Quaker.

Dalton realized that neither he nor his brother were able to distinguish colors, leading him to make the first scientific description of the optical condition, which would later be called color blindness, in his honor.

Air, physical mix

A year later, in 1793, he settled in Manchester, where he was appointed professor of Mathematics at New College. The first year in Manchester was for Dalton of much intellectual activity and important achievements. He enrolled in the Library and the Literary and Philosophical Society, of which he would later become president.

This membership gave him access to the facilities of his laboratory, where Dalton continued to develop his great passion for Meteorology, keeping a daily record of weather changes, with special emphasis on wind speed and pressure Barometric.

A few months in Manchester, Dalton published his first work, to which he titled Meteorological Observations and Essays, a book in which he published the result of his observations, and raised the thesis that air is a physical mixture of gaseous substances, and not a mixture chemistry, as it was believed up to that point.

Dalton’s Law

In 1802, his constant and detailed observations on atmospheric pressure led him to enact his Partial Pressures Act, better known as the Dalton Act, in which he describes the perfect gas mixtures, while establishing the relationship between steam pressure and temperature.

Some time later, Dalton would also go on to enact the Thermal Expansion Act, where he describes the behavior of expansion and understanding of gases, during heating and cooling.

Atomic Law

In 1803, while trying to articulate his Partial Pressures Act, Dalton began to discover his greatest contribution to the scientific world: his Atomic Theory, in which he claimed that all forms of matter, regardless of physical state, were formed in turn by small individual particles, which he called atoms.

Dalton also described among other qualities that each atom has a particular mass, which does not change during or after chemical reactions. That same year, he established the Multiple Proportions Act and created the first table of atomic weights, which he wrote for the Manchester Literary and Philosophical Society.

In 1808, he published his work A New System of Chemical Philosophy, in which he sought to expand his Atomic Theory, enacting his thesis that atoms of different elements could always be distinguished by their atomic weight, thus becoming the first man of science explainand and describe atomic behavior through their weights. Dalton also discovered the impossibility of creating or destroying an atom.

Honours and final years

During his life he received several honors, of which he rejected some driven by his modest Quaker status. From 1817 until his death he presided over the Literary and Philosophical Society of Manchester. In 1822 he was appointed a Member of the Royal Society, which he refused.

In 1832 he received an Honorary Doctorate in Science from the University of Oxford. In 1833 he received a lifetime pension from the Government, which was doubled three years later. In 1834 a statue was erected in his honour in the City of London. Dalton devoted himself to teaching and giving lectures for the rest of his life. She never married.

Finally, on July 27, 1844, he died at home of a heart attack. According to his last wish, his eyes were donated to science, to investigate his optical condition, discovering in what some consider his latest experiment, that it did not reside in the eye, but in some alteration of the sense of sight.

John Dalton biography
Source: Education  
July 31, 2019


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