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Davy, Humphry (1778-1829)
Born: Penzance (England), 1778
Died: Geneva (Switzerland), 1829
Davy studied pharmacy by self-education but after reading Lavoisier’s textbook he became a chemist in 1797. He studied the therapeutic properties of gases and in 1800 reported the unusual properties of nitrous oxide. This gas was the first chemical anaesthetic. In 1801 he became a lecturer at the newly founded Royal Institution in London. In 1813 he published the first textbook dealing with the application of chemistry to agriculture. However, his true fame is in electricity due to his invention in 1805 of the Davy lamp, which was of utmost importance for the mining industry. In 1808 he isolated barium, strontium, calcium and magnesium. Davy also proved that hydrochloric acid did not contain oxygen.
Humphry Davy, a woodcarver’s son, was born in Penzance in 1778.