Sir Humphrey Davy
Humphrey Davy was born in Penzance, on 17th December 1776. The town has a statue of him and a pub named after him. There is also a chemists, once the apothecarys where he was apprenticed after his father died and where he gained his interest in chemistry. (see above tips.)
Davy went to Bristol University at the age of 19 to study science. He became interested in gases, experimenting particularly with the effects of laughing gas ( nitreous oxide). He was to discover several chemical elements including potassium and sodium.
He received a knighthood in 1812 and a special dispensation from Napolean ( The Napoleanic Wars were ongoing at this time) to travel through France. During these travels he discovered an element he called "X" and which is now known as iodine.
He became a professor of the Royal Institute and later a member of the Royal Society.
He took as his assistant the famous chemist and physicist Michael Faraday. In 1815 he received a letter from a group of Newcastle miners telling him the dangers they faced in their job. The problem was methane gas which often flooded the mines. In those days the only light a miner carried was a candle stuck to the brim of his hat. Many deaths were caused by the resulting fires and explosion.
Drawing on the earlier rather complicated ideas of an Irishman called Clanney, Davy invented a safety lamp for miners that emitted enough light to work by without the resulting explosion. He never got around to patenting the invention which is why George Stephenson is often accredited with it.
He died in Geneva in 1829 and his death was at the time attributed to the many gases he'd inhaled in his career.
http://step.sdsc.edu/projects95/chem.in.history/essays/davy.html to read more of Davy's works, there are many.
Pensans - hub of Penwith
Penzance of pirate musical fame is a pleasant enough small town even if our first impressions were a bit odd. For having only 20 000 inhabitants, it has a great amount of fun and surprising shopping which I guess is a result of being a historic port and the hub and gateway to the scenic Penwith peninsula with Land's End, Minack and other famous sights and plenty of tourism. It is also the gateway to the Scilly Isles (or Scillies as people say here), with both a heliport with frequent services as well as a ferry, although the latter could be moved to Falmouth if the port cannot be expanded the way the ferry company wants it to be for the future so that is one to follow.
We first came here from St Michael's Mount with the intention of checking out the seafront. We never found any signs to this and only later on during our holiday figured out why, so this first visit never impressed us and we continued on another bus to Land's End. Later however, we returned to catch a bus to the Minack theatre from here. You may wonder why we didn't do both of those in one day but we were based in St Ives and relying on public transport as you can see, so to avoid feeling stressed and checking schedules instead of beaches, we decided to let every bus ride be a scenic discovery and we were never let down by this plan. On this second visit, we had plenty of time between buses and strolled around the town centre with its shops and were pleasantly surprised even if this meant an encounter with quite a spaced out young gentleman and notices in public toilets where people like him could change their needles. I guess this means that Penzance is one of those towns attracting unemployed who tend to gather in British seaside resorts for some reason, but he was the only sad figure we met here and the atmosphere is worn but friendly and not in the least bit threatening.