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Francis Hauksbee the Elder
FRS FRS may also refer to: Government and politics * Facility Registry System, a centrally managed Environmental Protection Agency database that identifies places of environmental interest in the United States * Family Resources Survey, a survey to c ...
(1660–1713), also known as Francis Hawksbee, was an 18th-century
English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval England, which has eventually become the World language, leading lan ...
scientist best known for his work on
electricity Electricity is the set of physical Physical may refer to: *Physical examination, a regular overall check-up with a doctor *Physical (album), ''Physical'' (album), a 1981 album by Olivia Newton-John **Physical (Olivia Newton-John song), "Physi ...

electricity
and
electrostatic repulsion Electrostatics is a branch of physics Physics (from grc, φυσική (ἐπιστήμη), physikḗ (epistḗmē), knowledge of nature, from ''phýsis'' 'nature'), , is the natural science that studies matter, its Motion (physics), m ...
.


Biography

Francis Hauksbee was the son of draper and common councillor Richard Hauksbee and his wife Mary. He was baptized on 27 May 1660 in the parish of
St Mary-at-the-Walls Colchester Colchester () is a historic market town A market town is a European Human settlement, settlement that obtained by custom or royal charter, in the Middle Ages, the right to host market (place), markets (market right), which di ...
,
Colchester Colchester () is a historic market town and the largest settlement within the borough of Colchester in the county of Essex, in the East of England. Colchester occupies the site of what was Camulodunum, the first Colonia (Roman), major Roman ci ...
. He was the fifth of five sons. In 1673 Hauksbee entered
Colchester Royal Grammar School Colchester () is a historic market town A market town is a European Human settlement, settlement that obtained by custom or royal charter, in the Middle Ages, the right to host market (place), markets (market right), which distinguished ...
. From 1678 to at least 1685 he apprenticed as a draper in the City of London, initially to his eldest brother. He was married no later than May 1687, when a daughter was born. Five of his eight children survived infancy. From 1687 to 1703, he may have run his own drapery shop. From at least March 1701, he lived at Giltspur Street, where he made air-pumps and pneumatic engines. The transition from drapery to scientific instrumentation and experimentation is not well documented. Historians have had to speculate about the events that lead to Hauksbee engagement with the Royal Society. Hauksbee became lab assistant. He became a member of the
Royal Society The Royal Society, formally The Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge, is a learned society A learned society (; also known as a learned academy, scholarly society, or academic association) is an organization that exis ...
on 30 November 1703. On 15 December 1703, he made his first experimental demonstration to the Society (a new air-pump and the phenomenon of ‘mercurial phosphorus,’ a kind of electrostatic discharge). This was also the first meeting chaired by
Isaac Newton Sir Isaac Newton (25 December 1642 – 20 March 1726/27) was an English mathematician A mathematician is someone who uses an extensive knowledge of mathematics Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics a ...

Isaac Newton
, who had just become president of the Society, and wished to resurrect the Royal Society's weekly demonstrations. Hauksbee was an instrument maker and appointed as chief experimentalist of the
Royal Society The Royal Society, formally The Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge, is a learned society A learned society (; also known as a learned academy, scholarly society, or academic association) is an organization that exis ...
. He was never formally appointed as Curator of experiments, even though he fulfilled the functions customarily associated with that office, and he never received a fixed salary. He was elected a
Fellow of the Royal Society Fellowship of the Royal Society (FRS, ForMemRS and HonFRS) is an award granted by the judges of the Royal Society The Royal Society, formally The Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge, is a and the 's national . Found ...
on 30 November 1705, with lowest social class status among the previously-elected Fellows. By 1709 Hauksbee had established himself at Wine Office Court, and by 1712 at Hind Court, both near Fleet Street and the Royal Society's house at Crane Court. He died at Hind Court and was buried in St Dunstan's-in-the-West, London on 29 April 1713.
John Theophilus Desaguliers John Theophilus Desaguliers FRS (12 March 1683 – 29 February 1744) was a British natural philosopher, clergyman, engineer and freemason who was elected to the Royal Society The Royal Society, formally The Royal Society of London for Impr ...

John Theophilus Desaguliers
succeeded Hauksbee at the Royal Society, appointed as Demonstrator and Curator in 1714, by invitation from Isaac Newton, who was still President.


Scientific contributions

Hauksbee's primary contributions were that he was a talented scientific instrument-maker and a creative experimenter, who was able to discover unknown and unexpected phenomena, especially his observations about electrical attraction and repulsion. Until 1705, most of these experiments were air pump experiments of a mundane nature, but Hauksbee then turned to investigating the luminosity of
mercury Mercury usually refers to: * Mercury (planet) Mercury is the smallest planet in the Solar System and the closest to the Sun. Its orbit around the Sun takes 87.97 Earth days, the shortest of all the Sun's planets. It is named after the Roman g ...

mercury
which was known to emit a glow under
barometric A barometer is a scientific instrument that is used to measure air pressure in a certain environment. Pressure tendency can forecast short term changes in the weather. Many measurements of air pressure are used within surface weather analysis to ...

barometric
vacuum conditions. He was the first to observe, in the early 1700s, that it was possible to use glass for electrical experiments. By 1705, Hauksbee had discovered that if he placed a small amount of mercury in the glass of his modified version of
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Otto von Guericke
's generator, evacuated the air from it to create a mild vacuum and rubbed the ball in order to build up a charge, a glow was visible if he placed his hand on the outside of the ball. This remarkable discovery was unprecedented at the time. This glow was bright enough to read by. It seemed to be similar to
St. Elmo's fire St. Elmo's fire is a weather phenomenon in which luminous plasma Plasma or plasm may refer to: Science * Plasma (physics), one of the four fundamental states of matter * Plasma (mineral) or heliotrope, a mineral aggregate * Quark–gluon plas ...
. This effect later became the basis of the
gas-discharge lamp Gas-discharge lamps are a family of artificial light sources that generate light by sending an electric discharge An electric discharge is the release and transmission of electricity in an applied electric field through a medium such as a gas. ...
, which led to
neon lighting , London, 1962 Neon lighting consists of brightly glowing, electrified glass tubes or bulbs that contain Rarefaction, rarefied neon Neon is a chemical element with the symbol A symbol is a mark, sign, or word that indicates, signifies ...
and mercury vapor lamps. In 1706 he produced an 'influence machine' to generate this effect. Hauksbee continued to experiment with electricity, making numerous observations and developing machines to generate and demonstrate various electrical phenomena. In 1708, Hauksbee independently discovered
Charles's law Charles's law (also known as the law of volumes) is an experimental gas law The gas laws were developed at the end of the 18th century, when scientists began to realize that relationships between pressure, volume and temperature of a sample o ...
of gases, which states that, for a given mass of gas at a constant pressure, the volume of the gas is proportional to its temperature.


Publications

Hauksbee published accounts of his experiments in the Royal Society's journal ''
Philosophical Transactions ''Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society'' is a scientific journal In academic publishing Academic publishing is the subfield of publishing Publishing is the activity of making information, literature, music, software and o ...
''. In 1709 he self-published ''Physico-Mechanical Experiments on Various Subjects'' which collected together many of these experiments along with discussion that summarized much of his scientific work. An Italian translation was published in 1716. A second edition was published posthumously in 1719. There were also translations to Dutch (1735) and French (1754).


Hauksbee Awards

The Royal Society Hauksbee Awards, awarded in 2010, were given by the Royal Society to the “unsung heroes of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.”


References


External links

*
Electricity in the 17th and 18th Centuries
a study of early Modern Physics (J. L. Heilbron)

(credits Hauksbee with building the "first true electrical machine" c. 1700) From the Museo Galileo, has photographs of various electric machines. {{DEFAULTSORT:Hauksbee, Francis 1660 births 1713 deaths People from Colchester People educated at Colchester Royal Grammar School English physicists
Fellows of the Royal Society {{CatAutoTOC People associated with the Royal Society United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' use Britain as ...