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Daniel Rutherford. Portrait of Daniel Rutherford (1749-1747), British physician. Rutherford was a student at Edinburgh University, Scotland, when he first isolated nitrogen in 1772. He burnt a candle in a closed container until it went out. He then used chemicals to remove the carbon dioxide from the container. He found that the remaining air could not support a flame, neither could a mouse survive in it. He reported that a gas other than carbon dioxide was present in air that would not support life or carbon dioxide, and called it mephitic air. It is now known as nitrogen. Rutherford was the uncle of the novelist Sir Walter Scott.
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