In the course of a long life Cavendish made a string of signal discoveries—among much else he was the first person to isolate hydrogen and the first to combine hydrogen and oxygen to form water—but almost nothing he did was entirely divorced from strangeness. To the continuing exasperation of his fellow scientists, he often alluded in published work to the results of contingent experiments that he had not told anyone about. In his secretiveness he didn't merely resemble Newton, but actively exceeded him. His experiments with electrical conductivity were a century ahead of their time, but unfortunately remained undiscovered until that century had passed. Indeed the greater part of what he did wasn't known until the late nineteenth century when the Cambridge physicist James Clerk Maxwell took on the task of editing Cavendish's papers, by which time credit had nearly always been given to others.
Among much else, and without telling anyone, Cavendish discovered or anticipated the law of the conservation of energy, Ohm's law, Dalton's Law of Partial Pressures, Richter's Law of Reciprocal Proportions, Charles's Law of Gases, and the principles of electrical conductivity. That's just some of it. According to the science historian J. G. Crowther, he also foreshadowed "the work of Kelvin and G. H. Darwin on the effect of tidal friction on slowing the rotation of the earth, and Larmor's discovery, published in 1915, on the effect of local atmospheric cooling . . . the work of Pickering on freezing mixtures, and some of the work of Rooseboom on heterogeneous equilibria."
Finally, he left clues that led directly to the discovery of the group of elements known as the noble gases, some of which are so elusive that the last of them wasn't found until 1962. But our interest here is in Cavendish's last known experiment when in the late summer of 1797, at the age of sixty-seven, he turned his attention to the crates of equipment that had been left to him—evidently out of simple scientific respect—by John Michell.