Henry Cavendish, British chemist

Henry Cavendish, British chemist

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Credit: GARY BROWN/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Henry Cavendish (1731-1810), British chemist and physicist, with a balloon of hydrogen (H). Cavendish was born wealthy and was given a good education. He spent four years at Cambridge and a year in Paris before moving to London. In chemistry, he showed that gases could be weighed, that air is a mixture and that water is not an element. His discoveries include hydrogen, which he described in a 1766 paper. In physics, he showed that the Earth's density was 5.5 times that of water. He also studied gravitation, electricity and heat. Much of his physics was unpublished, unknown until the 1870s, and thus not as influential as it could have been.

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