Joseph Priestley: Dephlogisticated Air

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Joseph Priestley is known to most as the man who discovered oxygen, and seven other elements. He did not name it, but he did discover its presence and he called it “dephlogisticated air”. He did it by using a 12-inch-wide glass "burning lens," focusing sunlight on a lump of reddish mercuric oxide in an inverted glass container placed in a pool of mercury. He discovered three types of air: air, fixed air (carbon dioxide) and inflammable air (hydrogen). By doing so, Priestley also discovered 10 new gases: nitric oxide (nitrous air), nitrogen dioxide (red nitrous vapour), nitrous oxide (inflammable nitrous air), hydrogen chloride (marine acid air), ammonia (alkaline air), sulfur dioxide (vitriolic acid air), silicon tetrafluoride (fluor acid air), nitrogen (phlogisticated air), oxygen (dephlogisticated air), and a gas later identified as carbon monoxide. He also wrote a number of books about electricity, air, and his own philosophies. Joseph Priestley was born into a family of semi-wealthy wool-cloth makers in in the Calvinist stronghold of West Riding, Yorkshire. He finished schooling at Dissenting Academy at Daventry, Northamptonshire, in 1752. He spent most of his life as a priest or a teacher. His…show more content…
In his book, he used history as a medium to show that “that scientific progress depended more on the accumulation of “new facts” that anyone could discover than on the theoretical insights of a few men of genius”- John G. McEvoy. In his work with electricity, Joseph Priestley anticipated the inverse square law of electrical attraction, discovered that charcoal conducts electricity, and noted the relationship between electricity and chemical change between the two. Through the basis of these experiments, he was elected a member of the Royal Society of London in
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