SHEILA TERRY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY SHEILA TERRY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Lavoisier's experiment on air. Historical artwork of the French chemist Antoine Laurent Lavoisier (1743-1794) showing fellow scientists his 1776 experiment that revealed the composition of air. Lavoisier (centre right, red jacket) heated mercury in a glass retort on a furnace (centre left). Red specks appeared on the mercury's surface as it reacted with the air. The remaining gas was inert and is now known to be nitrogen. The red specks, when heated, gave mercury and a combustible gas that Lavoisier named oxygen.
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