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15th October 2014

Large Chemistry Lecture Theatre
Cardiff University

Honorary Professor, Department of Materials, Science

 and Metallurgy, Cambridge University


Professor Sir John Meurig Thomas Hon FREng FLSW FRS

Honoured by Napoleon and (unexpectedly) by the Czar of Russia, friend of Wordsworth, Coleridge and Lord Byron, Sir Humphry Davy was one of the brightest stars in the European firmament.


Discoverer of sodium, potassium and five other elements as well as the anaesthetic properties of nitrous oxide, inventor of the Davy miners' lamp and of the technique of cathodic protection, he packed more action and achievement into his short life - he was buried in Geneva not long after his fiftieth birthday - that most scientists before or after him, even those who outlived him by several decades. Much admired by Berzelius, sometimes criticized by his fellow countrymen, he used to say that his greatest discovery was Michael Faraday.


In terms that are intelligible to a non-scientist, the speaker will trace Davy's path from his lowly origins in Cornwall to the pinnacles of international fame.


Sir Humphry Davy: Inventor, Discoverer, Natural Philosopher, Poet, Man of Action

held In conjunction with The Learned Society of Wales

Portrait of Sir Humphrey Davy from the collection of the Royal Society