Among the ancestors of Henry Cavendish were ministers, military leaders and even pirates. One of the most eccentric men of the 18th century graduated from the University of Cambridge at the age of 22 and devoted himself to science – fortunately, he received a huge inheritance and was not short of money.
He was called the richest of all the savants and the most knowledgeable of the rich. This eccentric gentleman did not strive for fame, almost never published his works and did not care about priorities. Leisurely minds suspect him of an alien origin: nothing else explains many of his scientific discoveries, far ahead of their time. His ability to determine the current rate with his hands scared his contemporaries. The scientific world is still wondering how it was possible for Cavendish to so accurately determine the gravitational constant, mass and the average density of the Earth. 200 years before Einstein, he calculated the deflection of light rays under the influence of the mass of the Sun, and his calculations almost coincide with Einstein's. The list of scientific achievements made by the eccentric Cavendish is impressive. He managed to obtain pure hydrogen, which he named “combustible air", to determine the composition of the air we breathe. He burned hydrogen and thus established the chemical composition of water. Cavendish introduced the concept of electric potential, researched the dependence of the capacity of an electric capacitor on the medium, studied interaction of electric charges, thus anticipating the Coulomb’s law, was the first to formulate the concept of heat capacity.
He died unmarried, leaving a huge fortune, from which not a pound was spent on science. And need we remind you of the Cavendish Laboratory at Cambridge – it has nothing to do with Henry Cavendish. It was named after its founder, William Cavendish, the Chancellor of Cambridge, who donated a large sum for the foundation of this educational and scientific laboratory.