Robert Boyle and His Data

The is Robert Boyle. Just to be safe, that's not his real hair. Wigs were the fashion in his day.

The table below shows the values Boyle collected. The titles of each column are rather wordy and so are given below the table. All measurements are in inches.

It was published in "A Defence of the Doctrine Touching the Spring And Weight of the Air . . . .," published in 1662.

```	A	B		C	D		E
48	00			29 2/16		29 2/16
46	01 7/16		see	30 9/16		30 6/16
44	02 13/16	below	31 15/16	31 12/16
42	04 6/16			33 8/16		33 1/7
40	06 3/16			35 5/16		35
38	07 14/16		37		36 15/19
36	10 2/16			39 5/16		38 7/8
34	12 8/16			41 10/16	41 2/17
32	15 1/16			44 3/16		43 11/16
30	17 15/16		47 1/16		46 3/5
28	21 3/16			50 5/16		50
26	25 3/16			54 5/16		53 10/13
24	29 11/16		58 13/16	58 2/8
23	32 3/16			61 5/16		60 18/23
22	34 15/16		64 1/16		63 6/11
21	37 15/16		67 1/16		66 4/7
20	41 9/16			70 11/16	70
19	45			74 2/16		73 11/19
18	48 12/16		77 14/16	77 2/3
17	53 11/16		82 12/16	82 4/17
16	58 2/16			87 14/16	87 3/8
15	63 15/16		93 1/16		93 1/5
14	71 5/16			100 7/16	99 6/7
13	78 11/16		107 13/16	107 7/13
12	88 7/16			117 9/16	116 4/8
```

All entries in C are 29 1/8

Titles of each column

A - The number of equal spaces in the shorter leg, that contained the same parcal of air diversely extended.

B - The height of the mercurial cylinder in the longer leg, that compressed the air into those dimensions.

C - The height of the mercurial cylinder that counter-balanced the pressure of the atmosphere.

D - The Aggregate of the last columns B and C, exhibiting the pressure sustained by the included air.

E - What that pressure should be according to the hypothesis, that supposes the pressures and expansions to be in reciprocal proportions.

The photo just below is of the page typeset in 1662 in which Boyle announced his discovery. His notes below the table are reproduced below the image.

For the better understanding of this experiment, it may not be amiss to take notice of the following particulars:

1. That the tube being so tall, that we could not conveniently make use of it in a chamber, we were fain to use it on a pair of stairs, which yet were very lightsome, the tube being for preservation's sake by strings so suspended, that it did scarce touch the box presently to be mentioned.

2. The lower and crooked part of the pipe was placed in a square wooden box, of a good largeness and depth, to prevent the loss of the quicksilver, that might fall aside in the transfusion from the vessel into the pipe, and to receive the whole quicksilver in case the tube should break.

3. That we were two to make the observation together, the one to take notice at the bottom, how the quicksilver rose in the shorter cylinder, and the other to pour in at the top of the longer; it being very hard and troublesome for one man alone to do both accurately.

4. That the quicksilver was poured in but by little and little, according to the direction of him that observed below; it being far easier to pour in more, than to take out any, in case too much at once had been poured in.

The graph just below is of Robert Boyle's data from above.

The following figure is from an article in the May 1992 issue of the Journal of College Science Teaching. Pages 363-365 is an excellent article by Frank Fazio titled "Using Robert Boyle's Original Data in the Physics and Chemistry Classrooms."