James Dewar (1842-1923)

Biography of James Dewar

  • James Dewar

    James Dewar

    Credit: Royal Institution

  • James Dewar

    James Dewar

    Credit: Royal Institution

Ri positions

  • Fullerian Professor of Chemistry, 1877-1923
  • Superintendent of the House, 1887-1923
  • Director of the Laboratory, 1887-1923
  • Director of the DFRL, 1896-1923

Biography

Born in Kincardine, he attended Dollar Academy before studying science at the University of Edinburgh. He held various posts in Scotland before being appointed Jacksonian Professor of Natural Philosophy at the University of Cambridge in 1875 which he held jointly with his Royal Institution appointments. In Cambridge he worked on spectroscopy with another chemist, George Liveing, while at the Royal Institution he concentrated on cryogenics, the study of how things behave at low temperatures. In the course of this work in invented the vacuum flask in 1892 and liquefied hydrogen in 1898.

He established the Davy-Faraday Research Laboratory in 1896 and with Lord Rayleigh was its first Director. Working with Frederick Abel on a government explosives committee he invented cordite. He was President of the Chemical Society from 1897 to 1899 and President of the British Association in 1902.

Collections

Papers include experimental notebooks, lecture notes, correspondence, photographs, papers relating to work at and running of RI and to war work 1915-1918.

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