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Daltonism:named after Doctor John Dalton ,the first Known case of color Blindness , He insisted his brother was blue.
Daltonism:named after Doctor John Dalton ,the first Known case of color Blindness , He insisted his brother was blue.

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Published by: Professor Stephen D. Waner on Jan 04, 2008
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Dalton, John
Dalton, John (b. Sept. 6, 1766, Eaglesfield, Cumberland. Eng.- d. July 27, 1844,Manchester), British chemist and physicist who developed the atomic theory of matterand hence is known as one of the fathers of modern physical science.Dalton was the son of a Quaker weaver. When only 12 he took charge of a Quaker schoolin Cumberland and two years later taught with his brother at a school in Kendal, where hewas to remain for 12 years. He then became a teacher of mathematics and naturalphilosophy at New College in Manchester, a college established by the Presbyterians togive a first-class education to both layman and candidates for the ministry, the doors of Cambridge and Oxford being open at that time only to members of the Church of England. He resigned this position in 1800 to become secretary of the ManchesterLiterary and Philosophical Society and served as a public and private teacher of mathematics and chemistry. In 1817 he became president of the Philosophical Society, anhonorary office that he held until his deathIn the early days of his teaching, Dalton's way of life was influenced by a wealthyQuaker, a capable meteorologist and instrument maker, who interested him in theproblems of mathematics and meteorology. His first scientific work, which he began in1787 and continued until the end of his life, was to keep a diary - which was ultimately tocontain 200,000 entries - of meteorological observations recording the changeableclimate of the lake district in which he lived. In 1793 Dalton published
 MeteorologicalObservations and Essays
. He then became interested in preparing collections of botanicaland insect species. Stimulated by a spectacular aurora display in 1788, he beganobservations about aurora phenomena - luminous, sometimes colored displays in the skycaused by electrical disturbances in the atmosphere. His writings on the aurora borealisreveal independent thinking unhampered by the conclusions of others. As Dalton himself notes, "Having been in my progress so often misled by taking for granted the results of others, I have determined to write as little as possible but what I can attest by my ownexperience." In his work on the aurora he concluded that some relationship must existbetween the aurora beams and the Earth's magnetism: "Now, from the conclusions in thepreceding sections, we are under the necessity of considering the beams of the auroraborealis of a ferruginous (iron-like) nature, because nothing else is known to be magnetic,and consequently, that there exists in the higher regions of the atmosphere an elastic fluidpartaking of the properties of iron, or rather of magnetic steel, and that this fluid,doubtless from its magnetic property, assumes the form of cylindric beams."Some of his studies in meteorology led him to conclusions about the origin of trade windsinvolving the Earth's rotation and variation in temperature - unaware, perhaps, that thistheory had already been proposed in 1735 by George Hadley. These are only some of thesubjects on which he wrote essays that he read before the Philosophical Society: othersincluded such topics as the barometer, thermometer, hygrometer, rainfall, the formation1
of clouds, evaporation and distribution and character of atmospheric moisture, includingthe concept of the dew point. He was the first to confirm the theory that rain is caused notby any alteration in atmospheric pressure but by a diminution of temperature. In hisstudies with water he determined the point of the maximum density of water to be 42.5° F(later shown to be 39.16° F. Along with his other researches he also became interested incolor blindness, a condition that he and his brother shared. The results of this work werepublished in an essay, "Extraordinary Facts Relating to the Vision of Colors" (1794), inwhich he postulated that deficiency in color perception was caused by discoloration of the liquid medium of the eyeball. Although Dalton's theory lost credence in his ownlifetime, the meticulous, systematic nature of his research was so broadly recognized thatDaltonism became a common term for color blindness.An indefatigable investigator or researcher, Dalton had an unusual talent for formulatinga theory from a variety of data. The mental capacity of the man is illustrated by his majorwork that was to begin at the turn of the century - his work in chemistry. Although hetaught chemistry for six years at New College, he had no experience in chemicalresearch. He embarked on this study with the same intuitiveness, independence of mind,dedication, and genius for creative synthesis of a theory from the available facts that hehad demonstrated in his other work. His early studies on gases led to development of thelaw of partial pressures (known as Dalton's law;
), which states that the total pressureof a mixture of gases equals the sum of the pressures of the gases in the mixture, each gasacting independently. These experiments also resulted in his theory according to whichgas expands as it rises in temperature (the so-called Charles's law, which should really becredited to Dalton). On the strength of the data gained in these studies he devised otherexperiments that proved the solubility of gases in water and the rate of diffusion of gases.His analysis of the atmosphere showed it to be constant in com-position to 15,000 feet.He devised a system of chemical symbols and, having ascertained the relative weights of atoms (particles of matter), in 1803 arranged them into a table. In addition, he formulatedthe theory that a chemical combination of different elements occurs in simple numericalratios by weight, which led to the development of the laws of definite and multipleproportions. Dalton discovered butylene and determined the composition of ether, findingits correct formula. Finally, he developed his masterpiece of synthesis - the atomictheory, the thesis that all elements are composed of tiny, indestructible particles calledatoms that are all alike and have the same atomic weight.Dalton's studies and writings, many included in his
 New System of Chemical
Philosophy(part I, 1808; part II, 1810), cast light on the man. Dedicated to scientific research,independent in his approach, often diffident in seeking help in scientific papers thatwould aid him - or misguide him, as he often thought - he was a genius in synthesizingfacts and ideas. Almost a recluse, with few friends, and unmarried, he was deeplydedicated to a search for the answer to scientific problems. His homemade equipmentwas crude, and his data were not usually exact, but they were good enough to give hisalert and creative mind clues to the probable answer. Dalton remained a man of simplewants and uniform habits, keeping his dress and manners consistent with his Quakerfaith.2

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