Denis Papin FRS (French pronunciation: [dəni papɛ̃]; 22 August 1647 – 26 August 1713)[1] was a French physicist, mathematician and inventor, best known for his pioneering invention of the steam digester, the forerunner of the pressure cooker and of the steam engine.[2][3]

Denis Papin
Denis Papin, unknown artist, 1689
Born(1647-08-22)22 August 1647
Chitenay, now Loir-et-Cher, France
Died26 August 1713(1713-08-26) (aged 66)
EducationUniversity of Angers
Known forSteam digester
Scientific career
InstitutionsUniversity of Marburg

Early life and education edit

Born in Chitenay (Loir-et-Cher, Centre-Val de Loire Région), Papin attended a Jesuit school there. In 1661, he attended the University of Angers, from which he graduated with a medical degree in 1669.

Career edit

In 1673, Papin worked with Christiaan Huygens and Gottfried Leibniz in Paris, and became interested in using a vacuum to generate motive power.

In 1675, he first visited London, where he worked with Robert Boyle from 1676 to 1679, publishing an account of his work in Continuation of New Experiments (1680).[4] During this period, Papin invented the steam digester, a type of pressure cooker with a safety valve. He first addressed the Royal Society in 1679 on the subject of his digester, and remained mostly in London. As a Huguenot, Papin found himself greatly affected by the increasing restrictions placed on Protestants by Louis XIV of France and by the King's ultimate revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685.

In Germany, he was able to live with fellow Huguenot exiles from France, so in about 1687, he left to take up an academic post in Germany.

In 1689, Papin suggested that a force pump or bellows could maintain the pressure and fresh air inside a diving bell. (Engineer John Smeaton utilised this design in 1789.[5][6])

While in Marburg in 1690, having observed the mechanical power of atmospheric pressure on his 'digester', Papin built a model of a piston steam engine, the first of its kind. In 1705 while teaching mathematics at the University of Marburg,[7] he developed a second steam engine with the help of Gottfried Leibniz, based[citation needed] on an invention by Thomas Savery, but this used steam pressure rather than atmospheric pressure. Details of the engine were published in 1707.

In 1705, Papin constructed a ship powered by hand-cranked paddles. An apocryphal story originating in 1851 by Louis Figuire held that this ship was steam-powered rather than hand-powered and that it was therefore the first steam-powered vehicle of any kind. The myth was refuted as early as 1880 by Ernst Gerland [de], though still it finds credulous expression in some contemporary scholarly work.[8]

Later,[when?] at the iron foundry in Veckerhagen (now Reinhardshagen), he cast the world's first steam cylinder.

In 1707, Papin returned to London leaving his wife in Germany. Several of his papers were put before the Royal Society between 1707 and 1712 without acknowledging or paying him, about which he complained bitterly. Papin's ideas included a description of his 1690 atmospheric steam engine, similar to that built and put into use by Thomas Newcomen in 1712, thought to be the year of Papin's death.

Death edit

The last surviving evidence of Papin's whereabouts came in a letter he wrote dated 23 January 1712. At the time he was destitute ("I am in a sad case") [Royal Society Archives, 1894, Vol. 7, 74], and it was believed that he died that year and was buried in an unmarked grave in London.

However, a record exists for the burial of a “Denys Papin” in an 18th-century Register of Marriages & Burials[9] which originally came from St Bride's Church, Fleet Street, London, but which is stored in the London Metropolitan Archives. The record states that Denys Papin was buried at St Bride's on 26 August 1713 – just a few days after his 66th birthday – and that he was buried in the Lower Ground, one of the two burial areas belonging to the church at the time. Since the discovery, in 2016, of the place and date of Papin's burial in 1713, a memorial plaque has been erected in the West Entrance of St Bride's Church, Fleet Street, London, to commemorate his life and his achievements.

Legacy edit

Boulevard Denis Papin in Carcassonne is named after him as well as a street in Saint-Michel, Montreal. There is also a statue of Papin with his invention in Blois, at the top of the Escalier Denis Papin, a stairway.

Works edit

  • Nouvelle manière pour lever l'eau par la force du feu ... par m. D. Papin. A Cassel: pour Jacob Estienne libraire de la cour : par Jean Gaspard Voguel imprimeur. 1707.

References edit

  1. ^ Excerpt from St Bride's Register Marriages Burrials
  2. ^ Hindle, Brooke; Lubar, Steven (1986). Engines of Change: The American Industrial Revolution 1790-1860. Washington, DC and London: Smithsonian Institution Press. ISBN 0-87474-540-3.
  3. ^ Acta Eruditorum. Leipzig. 1689. p. 96.
  4. ^ Anita McConnell, 'Papin, Denis (1647–1712?)', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004, accessed 29 April 2006]
  5. ^ Davis, RH (1955). Deep Diving and Submarine Operations (6th ed.). Tolworth, Surbiton, Surrey: Siebe Gorman & Company Ltd. p. 693.
  6. ^ Acott, C. (1999). "A brief history of diving and decompression illness". South Pacific Underwater Medicine Society Journal. 29 (2). ISSN 0813-1988. OCLC 16986801. Archived from the original on 27 June 2008. Retrieved 17 March 2009.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  7. ^ Daron Acemoğlu; James A. Robinson (20 March 2012). Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty. ISBN 0-307-71921-9. OL 16697651W. Wikidata Q7997840..
  8. ^ Wootton, David (2015). The Invention of Science. New York: Harper Collins. p. 498,647.
  9. ^ London Metropolitan Archives; Collection: Saint Bride; Title: Register of Marriages Burrials &tc from 1695 to Aug 1714; catalogue reference: P69/BRI/A/005/MS06540/003. (seen June 2016)

Sources edit

Porezag, Karsten (August 2020). "Denis Papin (1647-1713) in Marburg und Kassel - Erfinder des Prinzips der atmosphärischen Kolbendampfmaschine und des Dampfschiff-Antriebes" [Denis Papin (1647-1713) in Marburg and Kassel - inventor of the principle of the atmospheric piston steam engine and the steamship propulsion]. Hessische Heimat [Hessian homeland] (in German) (1/2 ed.). Gesellschaft für Kultur- und Denkmalpflege. ISSN 0178-3173. {{cite book}}: |journal= ignored (help)

External links edit