Joseph Priestley, English chemist

Joseph Priestley, English chemist

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Credit: MIDDLE TEMPLE LIBRARY/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Joseph Priestley (1733-1804). Historical artwork of the English chemist Joseph Priestley wrote books on optics and electricity but is best remembered for discovering a number of new gases including hydrogen chloride, nitrous oxide, ammonia, nitrogen and carbon monoxide. He is often given credit for the isolation of oxygen although he never recognized its significance and continued to believe in the erroneous phlogiston theory of combustion put forward by Stahl. It was Lavoisier, several years later, who named the gas oxygen. Priestley was also a Unitarian minister and political radical. Published in 'Lives of men of letters and science' by Henry Brougham, in 1846.

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