Antoine Laurent Lavoisier, French chemist

Antoine Laurent Lavoisier, French chemist

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Credit: SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Antoine Lavoisier. Engraving of Antoine Laurent Lavoisier (1743-1794), French chemist, showing fellow scientists his experiment which revealed the composition of air in 1776. Lavoisier (at centre right) heated mercury in a glass retort on a furnace (at centre left). Red specks appeared on the mercury's surface. After 12 days no more specks appeared and the experiment was stopped. The amount of air had reduced; the gas remaining was inert and is now known to be nitrogen. The red specks, when heated, gave mercury and a gas which supported burning better than air did; Lavoisier named this gas oxygen. He concluded correctly that air is a mixture of these two elemental gases.

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Keywords: air, antoine, antoine laurent, chemist, composition, discoverer, lavoisier, nitrogen, oxygen, pioneer, portraits, surname l

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