Bryan Higgins

In existographies, Bryan Higgins (1741-1818) was an Irish chemist, physicist, and natural philosopher, noted for []

In 1775, Higgins outlined an atomic hypothesis that recognized seven elements—earth, water, alkali, acid, air, phlogiston, and light—each one consisting of ‘atoms homogeneal’, being impenetrable, immutable in figure, inconvertible, and globular, or nearly so, and in which a speculation was made on the attractions and repulsions between these bodies. [1]

The lectures of Higgins were attended by Joseph Priestley.

In 1765, Higgins completed a doctorate of “physics” at the University of Leiden, after which in the 1770s he ran a “school of practical chemistry” in London.

Quotes | On
The following are quotes on Higgins:

“In 1776, Higgins put forward a solution to the problem of the elasticity and expansion of gases. If, as nearly everyone agreed, gases are composed of material atoms that attract one another then, according to Higgins, their elasticity is accounted for by ‘atmospheres of fire’, or heat, which, he suggests, surround all atoms. Their atmospheres are themselves atomic but ‘fire atoms’ are unusual in that, while attracted to ordinary material atoms, they repel each other strongly. This very simple theory accounted satisfactorily for the thermal expansion of solids and liquids as well as for the elastic and expansion of gases. At about the same time, Torbern Bergman was propounding the same idea, and a few years later, very similar theories were put forward by William Cleghorn (Ѻ) and Lavoisier.”
Donald Cardwell (1971), From Watt to Clausius (pgs. 57-58)

Higgins’ theory [1776] accounted for the phenomenon of the heating (or cooling) of a gas when it is suddenly compressed (or expanded): ‘adiabatic’ heating or cooling as it was later called. This had first been noticed in connection with experiments on the air pump. Cullen mentioned it but had no insight into its significance. Higgins also referred to it, and Johann Lambert pointed out that when air enters an evacuated vessel the temperature rises. His explanation was that even ‘empty’ space contains the ‘matter of heat’, so that the entry of air carrying more heat must cause a rise in temperature; and he went on to suggest that suddenly reducing the volume of a void should have a heating effect.”
Donald Cardwell (1971), From Watt to Clausius (pg. 58)

“In 1786, in a book on the latest advances in heat, light, and pneumatic chemistry, Bryan Higgins wrote that there was no need for him to justify his ‘material view of heat’, since Cavendish together with "other distinguished philosophers have accepted it." If Cavendish took note of Higgins's mistake, he must at the same time have realized that he had not made sufficiently public his view of heat. With ‘heat’, Cavendish intended to set the record straight.”
— Christa Jungnickel (1999), Cavendish: the Experimental Life (co-author: Russell McCormmach) (pg. 415)

1. (a) Clarke, F.W. (1904). “The Atomic Theory”, Report of the Board of Regents of the Smithsonian, pgs. 243-62.
(b) Swedenborg, Emanuel. (1721). Some Specimens of a Work on the Principles of Chemistry, with other Treatises (in Latin). Amsterdam; English ed. 1847, London.

Further reading
● Higgins, Bryan. (1786). Experimental and Observations Related to Acetous Acid, Fixable Air, Dense Inflamable Air, Oils and Fuel; the Matter of Fire and Light. London.

External links
Bryan Higgins – Wikipedia.
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