Back in 1778 an amazing man named Humphry Davy was born in England. While a lot of people haven’t heard of Humphry, he is credited with quite a number of different discoveries in science, chemistry, medicine, and physics. When he was just 22 years old he was appointed to be an assistant professor and director of the laboratory at the Royal Institution in London England. Here are just some of the interesting things that Sir Humphrey Davy had a hand in discovering during his lifetime.
The Metal Potassium Is One of Humphry’s Discoveries
A lot of people don’t realize that the element potassium is actually considered a metal according to the periodic table, and if you were to see it in its pure state you would definitely agree. He began with potash which was a common residue left over after burning some kinds of plants in a mixture with water.
Potash was used as a cleaning agent throughout the modern world back in the 1700’s but the chemical elements that it contained were not discovered until the British chemist Humphry Davy started working on it in 1807. Davy discovered that if you passed an electric current through water containing potash tiny amounts of metal precipitated out, and that’s how potassium became the first metal to be isolated out of a solution by using electrolysis.
Calcium Is Another Metal That Davy Discovered in 1808
Calcium is a very important nutrient for most animals on earth since our bones and skeletons require it for strength, in addition to using it for teeth as well. The chemical balance of our bloodstream also relies on a combination of calcium, potassium, sodium, and magnesium to maintain the delicate balance between acids and alkalis.
In addition to calcium, Sir Davy also had a hand in isolating chloride from a solution, and while not a mental by the periodic table, it is indeed an important element that needed to be defined. When sodium and chloride are combined into a chemical they make up the table salt that we use in our food and also that causes the saltiness of our massive oceans that cover the entire world.
Sir Davy Also Helped To Discover the Metal Magnesium
Although magnesium was discovered by Henry Wicker in the 1600’s as part of Epsom salts, that were quite popular when used to soak, and also to help those with magnesium deficiencies. Humphry Davy used his expertise in 1808 to separate out the magnesium from the Epsom salts and give it a name.
Magnesium is part of over 300 different biochemical reactions that take place in our bodies having to do with everything from our metabolism to making our muscles work and promoting healthy bones. While too much magnesium can be detrimental to our health causing diarrhea and fatigue, not enough magnesium can cause weak bones, nausea and muscle cramps.
Sodium Is Also One of Sir Davy’s Discoveries
Although sodium has been known to exist since ancient times in the form of sodium chloride, like table salt, it took Humphrey Davies to isolate the sodium from the chloride in 1807 in another one of his breakthrough experiments. He used electrolysis, the process where electricity is passed through a solution of water containing a salt. This then precipitates the metal at one of the electric poles while in this case the chloride gravitates to the other.
Sir Davies also was able to use the same electrolysis to separate chlorine and iodine into separate elements which many chemists and scientists had mistakingly assumed were already broken down when they were in their compound chemical state.
Needless to say, Davy was a prolific discoverer of many elements of the periodic table that most chemists rely on daily. In addition to being a chemist and scientist, he also invented the minor’s safety lamp in order to help minors see when below ground level. He was truly a great inventor.