Hardy, William Bate

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(b. Erdington, England, 6 April 1864; d. Cambridge, England, 23 January 1934),

biology, colloid chemistry.

After being educated at Framlingham College, Hardy entered Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, in 1884, and was awarded a first class in the natural sciences tripos (Zoology) in 1888. His association with his Cambridge college was a close one throughout his life; he was elected a fellow in 1892 and was a tutor from 1900 to 1918.in 1913 Hardy became university lecturer in physiology. He was elected to the Royal Society in 1902 and received its Royal Medal in 1926.

Hardy’s exceptional ability as a sientifin adviser to the government became evident after 1915 when, as biological secretary of the Royal Society, he organized a food committe that dealt with nutritional problems during World War I. He then became chairman of the Food Investigation Board (1917-1928) and director of food investigation (1917-1934) in the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research. Hardy also was chairman of the Advisory Committee on Fisheries Development (1919-1931), and was superintendent of the Low Temperature Research Station at Cambridge from 1922 to 1934. He was knighted in 1925, and at the time of his death was president of the British Association for the Advancement of Science.

Hardy began his scientific career as a histologist, and during the 1890’s he performed a miscellaneous series of investigations in this field. By 1899, however, he had come to question the validity of the fixing and staining techniques used to reveal the details of cell structure; and he criticized these techniques inan practicing biologist to a colloid chemist. During the succeeding twelve years he studied the colloidal properties of proteins, beginning with his discovery (in 1899) of the amphoteric behavior of albumin particles in an electric field. Although he initially doubted that proteins reacted stoichiometrically with acids and bases, by 1910 the weight of the evidence adduced by others led him to accept to the properties of molecular films at air-liquid interfaces, and then to the study of the friction between surfaces and the nature of lubrication. As was the case with several of his contemporaries, notably Jacques Loeb, Hardy’s scientific development exmplifies a transition from purely biological work to physicochemical investigations,biological work to physicochemical investigations, in the search for a “physical basis of life.” Until the end of his life, hecontinued to emphasize his biological orientation, especially in To Remind (1934).

Hardy’s admirable personal qualities won him many friends and made his influence on British science a significant one.


I. Original Works Hardy published about 60 seientific articles and lectures during the period 1891-1934. The most important were “On the Structure of cell Protoplasm,” in Journal of Physiology, 24 (1899), 158-210; “On the Coagulation of Proteid by Electricity,” ibid., 288-304: “On Globulins (Croonian Lecture),” in Proceedings of the Royal Society 79 (1907), 413-426: “The General Theory of Colloidal Solutions,” ibid., a86 (1912), 601-610: and To Remind: A Biological Essay (Baltimore-London, 1934). Collected Scientific Papers of Sir William Bate Hardy, E. K. Rideal, ed. (Cambridge, 1936). was published under the auspices of the Colloid Committee of the Faraday Society.

II. Secondary Literature Obituary articles include I. Bircumshaw, in Proceedings of the Physical Society, 46 (1934), 902; F. G.Hopkins and F. E. Smith, in Obituary Notices of Fellows of the Royal Society of London, 1 (1932-1935), 327-333; F.g.Hopkins, in Nature, 133 (1934), 281-283; and T.M., in Chemistry and Industry,12(1934), 133-134. A biographical notice was written by A. V. Hill for Dictionary of National Biography (1931-1940), 397-398. On the occasion of the centenary of Hardy’s birth, a collection of tributes was edited by E. C. Bate-Smith, Sir William Bate Hardy: Biologist, Physicist, and Food Scientist (Cambridge, 1964). It contains an article by E. to succeed him, but Xenocrates won by few K. Rideal that also appeared in Transactions of the Faraday Society, 60 (1964), 1681-1687, and in Proceedings of the Royal Institution of Great Britain, 40 (1964), 178-185.

Joseph S . Fruton