An anniversary celebration
Anniversaries provide appropriate occasions to remember significant events or personalities in the history of science. A major celebration took place in Manchester in 2003 on the 200th anniversary of Dalton’s first publication on his theory, but the 250th anniversary of his birth could not be allowed to pass without also being marked.
Appropriately enough, this year’s celebrations were organised by Dr Diana Leitch, current President of the Manchester Literary and Philosophical Society, and also a member of the RSC Historical Group. Dalton was himself President of the Lit. and Phil. for 28 years. Among the many guests present was Steve Howe who, soberly dressed in period Quaker costume, impersonated John Dalton.
The first part of the event took place in the chemistry department of Manchester University. The proceedings were opened by Professor Steve Liddle, who stressed the long association of Manchester University with atomic research. Professor David Phillips, former president of the RSC, then spoke. He described how the Royal Society of Chemistry, whose precursor the Chemical Society had been founded three years before Dalton’s death, had as part of its mission the aim of improving the public perception of chemistry and chemists. He cited recent research, which had shown that public attitudes to chemistry were more positive than anticipated.