78 Avenue Louis Pasteur, Boston, MA 02115, USA
Cooke was educated at the Boston Latin School.
Cambridge, MA 02138, USA
Cooke went to Harvard College, from which he graduated in 1848 with Bachelor of Arts degree.
Cooke was educated at the Boston Latin School and Harvard College, from which he graduated in 1848 with Bachelor of Arts degree.
Cooke was tutor in mathematics at Harvard in 1849 and instructor in chemistry. In 1850 he was appointed Erving professor of chemistry and mineralogy, a position that he held for the rest of his life. Following this appointment he went to Europe to buy apparatus and chemicals, mostly at his own expense, and attended lectures by Regnault and Dumas.
Laboratory instruction in chemistry combined with demonstration experiments during lectures had been developed by Liebig and had been brought to the Lawrence Scientific School of Harvard by E. N. Horsford, a pupil of Liebig’s. Cooke became enthusiastic about this method and was assigned a room about twenty by twenty-five feet in the basement of University Hall for a student laboratory. It took seven years of hard fighting, however, before his course was recognized by the college as anything beyond an extra. Finally, in 1871, new accommodations were secured by addition of a story to Boylston Hall.
In Harvard Hall there was large miscellaneous collection of rocks, minerals, and fossils. Cooke retained Benjamin Silliman, Sr., of Yale to sort this, and the result became the nucleus for the renowned collection of minerals now housed in the University Museum.
Cooke can be considered the founder of Harvard’s department of chemistry. All his life he strove for expansion of space, equipment, and personnel, providing much of the equipment from his own fund. His lectures were extremely popular with the students. Cooke was a member of a number of learned societies, notably the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Chemical Society of London (foreign honorary member). He received the Doctor of Law degree from Cambridge in 1882 and the same degree from Harvard in 1889. Before his death he was so exasperated by the failure of the university of promote Oliver W. Huntington, his wife’s nephew and his long-time collaborator, that he canceled a large bequest in it favor.
Cooke’s first paper, “The Numerical Relation Between the atomic Weights and Some Thoughts on the classification of the Chemical Elements” (1854), attracted wide attention. He maintained that the elements could be arranged in six series, in the manner of organic compounds. In each series atomic weights progressed by integral multiples of an integer peculiar to that series. Physical and chemical properties progressed analogously.
Cooke carried out two important determinations of atomic weights. In his papers on antimony (1877, 1878, 1879 1882) he identified three crystalline forms of antimony triiodide.
Cooke’s Principles of Chemical Philosophy which concluded each chapter with many questions and problems, had wide influence. He gave courses of popular lectures in various cities - Lowell and Worcester, Massachusetts. New York, and Washington, D.C. The course at Brooklyn Institute of arts and sciences in New York in 1860 was published as Religion and Chemistry or Proof of God’s Plan in the Atmosphere and the Elements (1864). He maintained that the argument from design in similar book, Credentials of Science and the Warrant of Faith, appeared in 1888.
In 1848 Cooke spent a year in Europe to improve his health. Throughout his life he suffered from poor eyesight and a tremor of his hands.
In 1860 Cooke married Mary Hinckley Huntington, of Lowell, who survived him. They had no children.