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Robert Hare

AKA Robert Hare, Jr.

Born: 17-Jan-1781
Birthplace: Philadelphia, PA
Died: 15-May-1858
Location of death: Philadelphia, PA
Cause of death: unspecified

Gender: Male
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Chemist, Inventor
Party Affiliation: Whig

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Hydrostatic blow-pipe and spiritoscope

Chemist Robert Hare was one of his era's most respected scientists. He was the first chemist to distill iridium, lime, magnesia, and platinum in fusible quantities, and devised a process to de-narcotize laudanum and a test to detect tiny quantities of opium. He authored a textbook on chemistry that was widely used for decades, and in 1839 became the first recipient of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences' Rumford Prize. His inventions include the galvanic deflagrator, an early electric device that provided intense and immediate combustion; the aqueous sliding rod hydro-oxygen eudiometer, which accurately measured oxygen content in the atmosphere; and the hydrostatic blow-pipe or oxyhydrogen blowtorch, which mixed hydrogen and oxygen in a flame-thrower. This was the greatest heat source science had up to that time, and it allowed the mass production of platinum, and of lime for lighting.

In 1854, investigating Michael Faraday's charge that spiritualist table-tilting was caused by involuntary muscular actions, Hare invented a machine he called the spiritoscope. He maintained that the device could "facilitate intercourse between spirits and mortals", and claimed that his work had impressed the ghost of Benjamin Franklin. Lending his scientific credibility to the metaphysical, Hare became a famous spiritualist, writing extensively on the topic and drawing snickers in scientific circles. In his last years he claimed to have invented a process for turning common metals into gold, but refused to publish his findings.

Father: Robert Hare (brewery owner, b. 28-Jan-1751, d. circa 1810)
Mother: Margaret Willing Hare (b. 15-Jan-1753, m. 16-Nov-1775, d. circa 1817)
Brother: Charles Willing Hare (b. 23-Apr-1778, d. 15-Apr-1827)
Brother: John Powell Hare (b. 22-Apr-1786, d. 14-Jun-1856)
Sister: Martha Hare
Wife: Harriet Clark (m. 11-Sep-1811, five sons, one daughter)
Son: George Harrison Hare
Son: John Innes Clark (attorney/judge, b. 1816. d. 29-Dec-1905)
Daughter: Lydia Hare Prime
Son: Robert Harford Hare
Son: (d. infancy)

    University: Chemistry, University of Pennsylvania (attended, 1801)
    Professor: Natural Philosophy, University of Pennsylvania (1810-12)
    Professor: Chemistry and Natural Philosophy, College of William and Mary (1818)
    Professor: Chemistry, University of Pennsylvania (1818-47)

    Rumford Prize 1839
    American Academy of Arts and Sciences
    American Association for the Advancement of Science
    American Philosophical Society
    Smithsonian Institution
    English Ancestry

Author of books:
A New Theory of Galvanism (1819)
Defense of the American Character (1819)
Compendium of the Course of Chemical Instruction (1828)
Chemical Apparatus and Manipulations (1836)
Memoir on the Explosiveness of Nitre (1850)
Standish the Puritan (1850, novel)
Overling; or, The Heir of Wycherly (1852, novel)
Experimental Investigation of the Spirit Manifestations (1855)
Spiritualism Scientifically Demonstrated (1855)


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