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Portrait of the English chemist J. Priestley

Portrait of the English chemist J. Priestley

H416/0052

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SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption

Joseph Priestley (1733-1804), the English chemist. He wrote books on optics and electricity but is best remembered for his discovery and examination of 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 as put forward by Stahl. It was Lavoisier, several years later, who named the gas oxygen. A Unitarian minister & political radical, Priestley's chapel & house in Birmingham were sacked by a mob in 1791 because of his support for the French revolution.

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