British educator and philosopher Joseph Priestley (1733 – 1804) discovered oxygen in experiments, isolated the gas, and described its function in combustion and respiration. He also invented soda or carbonated water by dissolving fixed air with water. Unaware of the significance of his discoveries and because of his stubborn refusal to abandon the phlogiston theory, he named the new gas “dephlogisticated air.” However, it would be the French chemist Antoine Lavoisier (1743 – 1794) who gave the gas its present name, and was able to explain the nature of the element, accurately describing its role in combustion that totally discredit the phlogiston theory. In addition, Lavoisier collaborated with others to develop a systematic chemical nomenclature that facilitates dialogue among chemists and is still very much in use today.
Who Discovered Oxygen?
Everyone needs oxygen to survive – man and animals alike. Furthermore, oxygen is the third most abundant element in the universe and makes up nearly 21% of the earth's atmosphere. Oxygen accounts for nearly half of the mass of the earth's crust, two thirds of the mass of the human body and nine tenths of the mass of water.
In this page we will try to outline the path to the discovery of this important substance.
Oxygen was discovered for the first time by a Swedish Chemist, Carl Wilhelm Scheele, in 1772. Joseph Priestly, an English chemist, independently, discovered oxygen in 1774 and published his findings the same year, three years before Scheele published. Antoine Lavoisier, a French chemist, also discovered oxygen in 1775, was the first to recognize it as an element, and coined its name "oxygen" - which comes from a Greek word that means “acid-former”.
There is a historic dispute about who discovered oxygen. Most credit Priestly alone or Both Priestly and Scheele. To learn more about this dispute go to the link section, at the bottom of this page.
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