Davy Medal
Sir Humphrey Davy
Abominated gravy.
He lived in the odium
Of having discovered sodium.
   This was the first clerihew written by Edmund Bentley. And although there's no record of Sir Humphrey Davy's dislike of gravy, it is true that he discovered sodium. He also is credited with many other important discoveries that have been beneficial for mankind and have been a boon to science. For example, he discovered the exhilarating effect of nitrous oxide, dubbed "laughing gas." He isolated sodium, potassium, and strontium by passing an electric current through fused soda, potash, and strontia. For this achievement alone, Davy was regarded as one of the greatest chemists.
   But Davy's remarkable invention, one that saved many lives, was the Davy lamp, a lamp made for miners. Its safety feature was an enclosed cage of fine-meshed wire that prevented high heat from escaping to ignite explosive gases in the mines. The Davy lamp has been replaced by modern mining lamps, but it saved untold numbers of lives during the many years of its use.
   Davy (1778-1829) was the son of a poor wood carver in Penzance, Cornwall, England. When twenty-two, he was appointed assistant lecturer for the Royal Institute, London. During the next year, he became a professor of chemistry there; he was knighted by the British king in 1812 and was thereafter invited to visit France, where he was also honored. Davy was presented by grateful coal mine owners with an expensive silver dining service. He asked that it be melted down to cover expenses for a Davy medal, to be "given annually for the most important discovery in chemistry made anywhere in Europe or Anglo-America."

Dictionary of eponyms. . 2013.

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