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Title: Pneumatics established : Francis Hauksbee and the air-pump
Author: Brundtland, Terje
ISNI:       0000 0000 5471 0607
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2006
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This thesis is about the English air-pump and the instrument-maker Francis Hauksbee (1660-1713). I focus on the development, practice, and various applications of his air-pumps in the period from 1700 to 1745, and show how this led to establishing pneumatics as a distinct field. I describe Hauksbee's background, and claim that his ability to build well-functioning air-pumps was due to his earlier career as a maker of commercial cupping-pumps and anatomical instruments. I show that his air-pumps were based on such devices; that his first version was a single-barrelled pump; and that it was this pump that gave him the reputation of being an outstanding instrument-maker. The celebrated double-barrelled pump, which came later, played no role in his early engagement with the Royal Society. I also argue that the air-pump became instrumentally black-boxed with Hauksbee's single-barrelled model, and reached its stabilized form with the double-barrelled one. Further, I argue that the various applications of Hauksbee's air-pump and air-pump accessories led to an extended vacuum-concept, where the pump became regarded as an unproblematic tool; and where 'vacuum' became thought of as an object. Moreover, I discuss the various activities of Hauksbee and his followers, and show that they can be seen as a separate group of instrument-makers, which I describe as the 'Pneumaticians'. This group took part in public lecturing and supplied instruments to individuals who performed air-pump experiments at home, and I claim that a private market for air-pumps and air-pump accessories had formed in London already before 1720. Finally, and contradictory to modern opinions, I argue that the air-pump in this period was not used for demonstrations of known facts only, but also for basic and applied research, and as a manufacturing tool as well. I show that all these activities contributed to form pneumatics into an established area within natural philosophy, to a state where it held its own accepted methods, terminology, literature, instruments, and craftsmen.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available