HENRY CAVENDISH– BONAFIDE GENIUS AND THE MOST INTROVERT SCIENTIST
We all love those colorful balloons. See the people flying high in a balloon. How is the balloon able to move up? There should be some element making it to fly high in the air. Balloons are filled with Hydrogen gas which makes the balloon lighter and it starts moving up. This gas has been discovered by Henry Cavendish.
Henry Cavendish was born on October 10th, 1731 in Nice, France. He was the eldest son of Lord Charles Cavendish and Lady Anne Grey. His mother died in 1731 shortly before the Second birthday of Henry Cavendish. This created a huge impact on him and therefore he started developing extreme shyness and became too introvert. Henry attended Hackney Academy at the age of 11 which is a private school in London and later he entered the University of Cambridge at the age of 18 in St Peter’s College (now known as peter house) but he left three years later without taking a degree which was a common practice then. Thereafter he used to live with his father in London and he set up his own laboratory.
He immersed himself in scientific studies and experiments but never cared to publish many of his discoveries. He published only twenty articles though he performed numerous investigations. Many of his investigations were published a century after his death. Thanks to Maxwell, who rediscovered his investigations in 1879 and published them thus making the world to know his discoveries.
He was the first person to discover hydrogen gas as a distinct substance and he calculated densities for it and many other gases. He was the first scientist to calculate the density of earth. This discovery was termed to be the most prominent and celebrated discovery of Henry. He also showed that water consists of hydrogen and oxygen. He also made extensive research in electric field. He made a theory on electrostatic attraction (the attraction between positive and negative electrical charges). He studied the properties of dielectrics which are non conducting electricity and also clarified between the amount of electricity and electric potential. He also proved the fish’s ability to produce electricity. This later helped to prove the electrical conductivity in water.
Henry started studying about heat along with his father and he worked out the major important corrections in the accurate thermometry. He published a study which showed the means of finding the freezing point of mercury in the year 1783. He also made a vast study on fusion, freezing and the latent heat changes which follow them.
He was a very shy person and hardly interacted with people and conversed with them. Many of his discoveries were not even discussed with his fellow scientists. He made secret staircases in his home to avoid his housekeeper as much as possible. He was extremely distressed by female company and he never married too. He devised a note system in order to communicate with his maids.
He used to attend The Royal Society’s dinner on every Thursday with his fellow scientists and it was a rule that the other guests shall neither approach nor look at him. People whoever interested to talk to him had to move to the space around him casually and converse in empty space as if no one was there. They were only answered by Henry if he found them of any significance. By the time people could hear and understand what he said, Henry used to vanish into a calmer zone of the room. Once there was an admirer who came to visit Henry all the way from Vienna, Austria and Henry was so surprised seeing him at his door that he ran out of the door onto the roads. Later after several hours he was found in woods and he had to be convinced that it was safe to return to his home.
He died on February 24th, 1810 in London and People would still say pointing at his home that this was the place where the earth has been weighed.