If you’re ever asked to identify the Father of Chemistry for a homework assignment, the “most correct” answer for a test will be the one found in your textbook. However, that may not be the answer others would give when asked the question. Here are candidates for the title “Father of Chemistry,” given in chronological order.
- The most common answer to “Who is the Father of Chemistry” is Antoine Lavoisier.
- Jabir ibb Hayyan or Geber is cited as the Father of Chemistry.
- Other chemists sometimes given the title include Robert Boyle, John Dalton, and Jöns Berzelius.
The First Chemist
The first chemist actually was a Mesopotamian woman, Tapputi, who described the process of distillation. She might be called the Mother of Chemistry, but really didn’t engage in science in the modern sense of the word.
Jabir ibn Hayyan as the Father of Chemistry
Jabir made inorganic compounds from organic substances. His works describe the sulfur-mercury theory of metals. He systematically classified chemicals and applied quantitative methods to his investigations.
Antoine Lavoisier as the Father of Chemistry
Usually, the title of Father of Chemistry goes to French scientist Antoine Lavoisier. Perhaps the most significant of Lavoisier’s achievements was discovering the role of oxygen in combustion. He identified water as a compound and not an element. He demonstrated conservation of mass in chemical reactions. Lavoisier listed elements, described properties of matter, helped to revise and standardize chemistry nomenclature, and made a host of other contribution to the field of chemistry. Lavoisier sometimes is known as the Father of Modern Chemistry, to distinguish his work from contributions made before chemistry was a true science.
His wife, Marie Lavoisier, is the Mother of Modern Chemistry. She worked together with Antoine, make sketches and engravings for his work, edited and published paper, and discussed chemistry with other scientists of the day.
Other Candidates for the Title “Father of Chemistry”
Geber and Lavoisier aren’t the only people who have been called the “Father of Chemistry.” Robert Boyle, John Dalton, and Jöns Berzelius are other candidates for the title.
- Eagle, Cassandra T.; Jennifer Sloan (1998). “Marie Anne Paulze Lavoisier: The Mother of Modern Chemistry”. The Chemical Educator. 3 (5): 1–18. doi:10.1007/s00897980249a
- Gribbin, John (2003). Science: A History 1543–2001. Gardners Books. ISBN 978-0-14-029741-6.
- Holmyard, Eric J. (1923). “Jābir ibn Ḥayyān”. Proceedings of the Royal Society of Medicine. 16: 46–57. doi:10.1177/003591572301601606
- Lory, Pierre (2008a). “Jābir Ibn Hayyān”. In Koertge, Noretta (ed.). New Dictionary of Scientific Biography. Vol. Vol. 4. Detroit: Thomson Gale. pp. 19–20. ISBN 9780684313207.