John Ayrton Paris

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John Ayrton Paris c. 1838

John Ayrton Paris, FRS (1785 – 24 December 1856) was a British physician. He is most widely remembered as the probable inventor of the thaumatrope, which he used to demonstrate persistence of vision to the Royal College of Physicians in London in 1824; at about this time he wrote a book entitled Philosophy in sport made science in earnest : being an attempt to implant in the young mind the first principles of natural philosophy by the aid of the popular toys and sports of youth which extended the principle of using simple devices to give convincing demonstrations of scientific principles.

Paris was a medical researcher of some distinction, for example making one of the earliest observations of occupational causes of cancer when, in 1822, he recognised that their exposure to arsenic fumes might be contributing to the unusually high rate of scrotal skin cancer among men working in copper-smelting in Cornwall and Wales (his conclusions on this subject are included in a book that is also a visitor's guide to West Cornwall). He also wrote about the accidents caused by the use of explosives in mines, and gave lectures to the Royal Geological Society of Cornwall on chemistry[1] as well as serving as the society's first secretary.[2] His distinction was recognised when he was elected president of the Royal College of Physicians in 1844, an office he held until his death. A lithograph of him by William Drummond is in the National Portrait Gallery, London. He wrote a number of substantial medical books, including Medical jurisprudence (co-authored; 1823), a Pharamacologia which first appeared in 1820 and went through numerous editions, Elements of medical chemistry (1825) and a Treatise on diet (1826). He also produced a number of memoirs of other physicians for the Royal College, and the first biography of Sir Humphry Davy (1831). He was an advocate of the use of scientifically assessed herbal preparations in medical treatment.

He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in June 1821.[3]

The exact date of Paris's birth is uncertain, as is its location: some sources list him as born in Cambridge, others as born in Edinburgh, a city with which he certainly had some links.

Works[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Denise Crook, ‘Paris, John Ayrton (bap. 1785, d. 1856)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, Sept 2004; online edn, May 2007 accessed 15 Nov 2007
  2. ^ Paris, John Ayrton, M.D. (1785–1856), physician, by Norman Moore, Dictionary of National Biography, Published 1895
  3. ^ "Lists of Royal Society Fellows 1660–2007". London: The Royal Society. Retrieved 15 July 2010.