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John Dalton FRS (6 September 1766 27 July 1844) was an English chemist, meteorologist and

physicist. He is best known for his pioneering work in the development of modern atomic theory,
and his research into colour blindness (sometimes referred to as Daltonism, in his honour).

Early life
John Dalton was born into a Quaker family at Eaglesfield, near Cockermouth in Cumberland,
England. The son of a weaver, he joined his older brother Jonathan at age 15 in running a Quaker
school in nearby Kendal. Around 1790 Dalton seems to have considered taking up law or
medicine, but his projects were not met with encouragement from his relatives Dissenters
were barred from attending or teaching at English universities and he remained at Kendal
until, in the spring of 1793, he moved to Manchester. Mainly through John Gough, a blind
philosopher and polymath from whose informal instruction he owed much of his scientific
knowledge, Dalton was appointed teacher of mathematics and natural philosophy at the "New
College" in Manchester, a Dissenting academy. He remained in that position until 1800, when the
college's worsening financial situation led him to resign his post and begin a new career in
Manchester as a private tutor for mathematics and natural philosophy.
Dalton's early life was highly influenced by a prominent Eaglesfield Quaker named Elihu
Robinson, a competent meteorologist and instrument maker, who got him interested in problems
of mathematics and meteorology. During his years in Kendal, Dalton contributed solutions of
problems and questions on various subjects to the Gentlemen's and Ladies' Diaries, and in 1787
he began to keep a meteorological diary in which, during the succeeding 57 years, he entered
more than 200,000 observations.[1] He also rediscovered George Hadley's theory of atmospheric
circulation (now known as the Hadley cell) around this time.[2] Dalton's first publication was
Meteorological Observations and Essays (1793), which contained the seeds of several of his
later discoveries. However, in spite of the originality of his treatment, little attention was paid to
them by other scholars. A second work by Dalton, Elements of English Grammar, was published
in 1801.

Atomic theory
In 1800, Dalton became a secretary of the Manchester Literary and Philosophical Society, and in
the following year he orally presented an important series of papers, entitled "Experimental
Essays" on the constitution of mixed gases; on the pressure of steam and other vapours at
different temperatures, both in a vacuum and in air; on evaporation; and on the thermal
expansion of gases. These four essays were published in the Memoirs of the Lit & Phil in 1802.
The second of these essays opens with the striking remark,
There can scarcely be a doubt entertained respecting the reducibility of all elastic fluids of whatever kind,
into liquids; and we ought not to despair of affecting it in low temperatures and by strong pressures
exerted upon the unmixed gases further.

After describing experiments to ascertain the pressure of steam at various points between 0 and
100C (32 and 212F), Dalton concluded from observations on the vapour pressure of six
different liquids, that the variation of vapour pressure for all liquids is equivalent, for the same
variation of temperature, reckoning from vapour of any given pressure.
In the fourth essay he remarks,
I see no sufficient reason why we may not conclude that all elastic fluids under the same pressure
expand equally by heat and that for any given expansion of mercury, the corresponding expansion of
air is proportionally something less, the higher the temperature. It seems, therefore, that general laws
respecting the absolute quantity and the nature of heat are more likely to be derived from elastic fluids
than from other substances.

Dalton's experimental method


As an investigator, Dalton was often content with rough and inaccurate instruments, though
better ones were obtainable. Sir Humphry Davy described him as "a very coarse experimenter",
who almost always found the results he required, trusting to his head rather than his hands. On
the other hand, historians who have replicated some of his crucial experiments have confirmed
Dalton's skill and precision.
In the preface to the second part of Volume I of his New System, he says he had so often been
misled by taking for granted the results of others that he determined to write "as little as possible
but what I can attest by my own experience", but this independence he carried so far that it
sometimes resembled lack of receptivity. Thus he distrusted, and probably never fully accepted,
Gay-Lussac's conclusions as to the combining volumes of gases. He held unconventional views
on chlorine. Even after its elementary character had been settled by Davy, he persisted in using
the atomic weights he himself had adopted, even when they had been superseded by the more
accurate determinations of other chemists. He always objected to the chemical notation devised
by Jns Jakob Berzelius, although most thought that it was much simpler and more convenient
than his own cumbersome system of circular symbols.

Death and legacy


Dalton suffered a minor stroke in 1837, and a second one in 1838 left him with a speech
impediment, though he remained able to do experiments. In May 1844 he had yet another stroke;
on 26 July he recorded with trembling hand his last meteorological observation. On 27 July, in
Manchester, Dalton fell from his bed and was found lifeless by his attendant.
He was buried in Manchester in Ardwick cemetery. The cemetery is now a playing field, but
pictures of the original grave are in published materials.[6] [7]
A bust of Dalton, by Chantrey, was publicly subscribed for[8] and placed in the entrance hall of
the Royal Manchester Institution. Chantrey also crafted a large statue of Dalton, now in the
Manchester Town Hall.

In honour of Dalton's work, many chemists and biochemists use the (as of yet unofficial) unit
dalton (abbreviated Da) to denote one atomic mass unit, or 1/12 the weight of a neutral atom of
carbon-12.
There is a John Dalton Street in the centre of Manchester.
The main complex of Manchester Metropolitan University is named after John Dalton, in which
the majority of its Science & Engineering lectures and classes take place. There is a statue of
John Dalton by this building.
The University of Manchester established two Dalton Chemical Scholarships, two Dalton
Mathematical Scholarships, and a Dalton Prize for Natural History.
In his book The 100, Michael H. Hart ranks Dalton as the 32nd most influential person in history.
A lunar crater has been named after Dalton.
The name Dalton can often be heard in the halls of many quaker schools, for example, one of the
school houses in Coram House, the primary sector of Ackworth School, is called Dalton.
Much of his collected work was damaged during the bombing of the Manchester Literary and
Philosophical Society on 24 December 1940. This event prompted Isaac Asimov to say, "John
Dalton's records, carefully preserved for a century, were destroyed during the World War II
bombing of Manchester. It is not only the living who are killed in war."