Essay On The Element Oxygen

Essay On The Element Oxygen-30
Aside from what he learned in the local schools, he taught himself Latin, Greek, French, Italian, German and a smattering of Middle Eastern languages, along with mathematics and philosophy.This preparation would have been ideal for study at Oxford or Cambridge, but as a Dissenter (someone who was not a member of the Church of England) Priestley was barred from England's great universities.An Englishman by birth, Priestley was deeply involved in politics and religion, as well as science.

Aside from what he learned in the local schools, he taught himself Latin, Greek, French, Italian, German and a smattering of Middle Eastern languages, along with mathematics and philosophy.This preparation would have been ideal for study at Oxford or Cambridge, but as a Dissenter (someone who was not a member of the Church of England) Priestley was barred from England's great universities.

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In the process, he helped dethrone an idea that dominated science for 23 uninterrupted centuries: Few concepts "have laid firmer hold upon the mind," he wrote, than that air "is a simple elementary substance, indestructible and unalterable." In a series of experiments culminating in 1774, Priestley found that "air is not an elementary substance, but a composition," or mixture, of gases.His unorthodox religious writings and his support for the American and French revolutions so enraged his countrymen that he was forced to flee England in 1794.He settled in Pennsylvania, where he continued his research until his death.Researchers had distinguished no more than two dozen or so elements, depending on who was doing the counting. Nobody knew what it was, and researchers kept finding that it could be converted into such a variety of forms that they routinely spoke of different "airs." The principal method for altering the nature of air, early chemists learned, was to heat or burn some compound in it.The second half of the 1700s witnessed an explosion of interest in such gases.Some 2,500 years ago, the ancient Greeks identified air — along with earth, fire and water — as one of the four elemental components of creation. But it made excellent sense at the time, and there was so little reason to dispute it that the idea persisted until the late 18th century.It might have endured even longer had it not been for a free-thinking English chemist and maverick theologian named Joseph Priestley.Priestley (1733-1804) was hugely productive in research and widely notorious in philosophy.He invented carbonated water and the rubber eraser, identified a dozen key chemical compounds, and wrote an important early paper about electricity.Before long, he was encouraged to study for the ministry.And study, as it turned out, was something Joseph Priestley did very well.

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