Denis Papin (1647–1714)

Denis Papin

1647 On 22 August, at Bois, France, was born Denis Papin. He was a French inventor, physicist and mathematician, best known for his pioneering invention of the steam digester, the forerunner of the steam engine, and of the pressure cooker.

1661-1669 Attended University at Angers, from which he graduated with a medical degree. His father was a doctor and he also studied medicine to Protestant University in Angers and then he got his Ph.D.

1671 Coming after a short time to Paris, he met Huyghens and together they did some researches regarding means for raising considerable loads.

1674 He published at Paris his first scientific work called “New Experiences to Achieve Vacuum”.

1675 He left to England where he met Robert Boyle who he showed the different improvements he had done for pneumatic machine construction. The two scholars worked then together.

1681 To Boyle’s proposal, Papin was elected member of Royal Society in London. During this time he published some theoretical issues regarded to large cooking pot, which at that time was named “Papin’s pot”, under the title “Way of Boil Meat Shortly and with Little Expense”. He demonstrated the possibility to bring water to a temperature above 100 degrees by heating it in closed dishes.

1685 He went back to Paris but he was forced, because of Edict in Nantes, to leave France. He settled in England where he was greeted with honours.  Because of his renown he was given a Department of Mathematics in Marbourg. He did not stop his favourite works.

1690 Within a published memoir steam-engine theory was founded, running by an alternative work of the piston. This piston was pushed from top to bottom in a vertical pump body by the water vapors that were formed under it because of heat; when the piston finished the race, the fire was removed, the water steam was cooling and decreasing elastic force and atmospheric pressure, exercising itself above the piston forced it to go down again.

1707 Papin improved this machine. Savery and Newcomen had already built such a device in 1705. Papin admitted within the published memoir the fact that Englishmen had achieved the same result by the same means. But it is known that since 1690 there was a description of the device in its first form, done by Papin.

1709 Sciences Academy in Paris appointed him a Corresponding Member. Then Papin dealt many years with the construction of a ship with oars moved by steam. This ship was destroyed by boatmen in Weser, who considered that their livelihood was in danger. Papin returned to London after that asking to Royal Society the support to built another ship, but he did not get anything.

1712 He left England and went back to Casel.

1714 This year Denis Papin died. The last years of his life are not very known. It is believed that after the depletion of latest material resources for improving his steam-engine, he would have died in poverty.

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