Henry Cavendish was an English scientist, born in 1731, who accomplished many feats of mathematical and scientific precision during his lifetime. For example, he was the first to calculate Newton’s universal gravitational constant and did so by measuring slight, nearly nonexistent gravitational attractions with a beam of light. It was not until nearly a hundred years after his death that the accuracy of “G” could be improved from his initial calculation. Also, he did a large amount of work with calculating the density of gasses and was the first to show that hydrogen was its own element. Among his many other fields of study, he also made discoveries in electricity and thermochemistry.
Apart from his constant scientific experiments, Cavendish was also a British noble (he did not actually have a title, but both his mother and father came from families of nobility) who took a major role in the Royal Society. He was elected to the council of the Royal Society of London in 1765 and also headed many of the society’s committees. Even though he left college without ever earning a degree, he eventually became one of the most prestigious members. Aside from these scientific associations, Cavendish tended to be withdrawn from society up until his death in 1810.