John Dalton

Scientist

Born: 6 September 1766
Died: 27 July 1844
Birthplace: Eaglesfield, Cumberland, England
Best known as:

The weather pioneer who advocated atomic theory

Englishman John Dalton was one of the first scientists to decide that all matter is made up of small particles, or atoms. He is also remembered for his weather observations, which he began recording in 1787 using instruments he made himself. In 1793 Dalton published Meteorological Observations and Essays, one of the first books of its kind. His studies led him to develop theories about water vapor and mixed gases, and in 1801 he came up with Dalton's law of partial pressures: that in a mixture of gases, each component exerts the same pressure as it would if it alone made up the whole volume of the mixture. From there Dalton decided that all matter, not only gases, must consist of small particles. He revived the ancient theory of atoms and prepared the first table of atomic weights, and announced his notions publicly in 1803. By the end of his life his atomic theory was widely accepted, and in 1833 he was awarded an annual pension from the king.

Extra credit:

In 1794 Dalton became the first to describe color blindness (sometimes called daltonism)... A teacher throughout much of his life (beginning at the age of 12), Dalton also published Elements of English Grammar in 1801... Dalton was a Quaker and his birth was not officially registered at the time; some sources list his birth date as 5 September 1766.

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