‘Sir humphry davy who abominated gravy…’


  • Prof. John Meurig. Thomas

    1. Davy Faraday Research Laboratory The Royal Institution of Great Britain 21 Albemarle Street, London, WIX 4BS (UK)
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    • F.R.S., is Deputy Prochancellor of the University of Wales and Fullerian Professor of the Royal Institution of Great Britain where he was Director from 1986–91. Prior to that, 1978-1986, he was Head of the Physical Chemistry Department at the University of Cambridge, a post he took up after serving as Head of Chemistry at the University College of Wales. He is author of several books and over 600 papers dealing with solid-state chemistry, surfaces and interfaces, heterogeneous catalysis and the characterization of materials. For this work he has received many national and international awards, and in 1991 he was knighted in the Queen's birthday honours list for services to chemistry and the popularization of science. He has been an Editorial Advisor for Advanced Materials since it was founded in 1988.

  • This article contains many excerpts from the author's “Michael Faraday and the Royal Institution: The Genius of Man and Place” (Adam Hilger, Bristol 1991, and the American Institute of Physics) and from the booklet by Ronald King entitled “Humphry Davy” published by the Royal Institution.


Essay: Humphry Davy made many contributions to basic science, including materials science. In this extended Christmas essay, one of the most recent directors of the Royal Institution in London reviews the and work of one of his most illustrious predecessors from a humble beginning as the son of a Cornish woodcarver to the heights of the Presidency of the Royal Society.