Carl Wilhelm Scheele, Swedish chemist

Carl Wilhelm Scheele, Swedish chemist

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Credit: COLLECTION ABECASIS/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Carl Wilhelm Scheele (1742-1786). 1854 illustration of the Swedish chemist Carl Wilhelm Scheele. Scheele practised as an apothecary, a profession that allowed him to indulge in his passion for chemical experimentation. Over his career he discovered several new chemical elements and compounds, but was unlucky in that his contemporaries often published their findings before him. In the 1770s he discovered the gaseous elements chlorine and oxygen. He was also the first to make a number of new acids, including phosphoric, arsenic and hydrocyanic. Scheele's early death at the age of 43 was probably due to a lifetime spent working with reactive and toxic chemicals.

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