Who is Joseph Priestley?June 25, 2021
English chemist, philosopher, pastor. He is known for his research on carbon dioxide and his contributions to the discovery of oxygen.
Joseph Priestley is an English-born scientist who made important contributions to the field of experimental chemistry. He was the son of a tailor from Yorkshire. He was religiously educated, learned many old and new languages. After several years as a pastor and teacher, he became Lord Shelburne’s librarian at Calne, Wiltshire. He later moved to Birmingham.
Priestley discovered many gases and determined their properties. Although he did not receive a scientific education, he made extremely interesting experiments. In a nearby brewery, he collected what he called “constant air” gas released during the brewing process of beer, and succeeded in mixing this gas with water to obtain soda. (“Fixed air” is carbon dioxide gas.) Priestley discovered oxygen in August 1774, demonstrating that it is essential for respiration and combustion. Sulfur dioxide and ammonia are other important gases he discovered.
Priestley was for democracy. He was on the side of the Americans in the wars of the American colonies to gain their independence from England, and with the revolutionaries in the French Revolution. In 1791, the people of Birmingham burned Priestley’s house and set his church on fire because of the dinner given by his association to celebrate the French Revolution. Priestley went to the USA in 1794 and settled in Northumberland, Pennsylvania, where he continued his studies in science and religion until the end of his life.
English chemist, philosopher and theologian. His early works were on religious subjects. After teaching as a preacher, physics, chemistry, and language teacher, his book “The History and Present State of Electricity” (The History and Present State of Electricity, 1967) was published. With this work, he confirmed that conductors are superficially electrified. Later he became interested in chemistry, and in 1771 he studied carbon gas and prepared “Experiments and Observations on Different Kinds of Air” (1772). He obtained oxygen for the first time by heating red mercury oxide (1775). He then found the presence of gases such as ammonia, carbon monoxide, and hydrogen sulfide, as green plants absorb sunlight to release carbon dioxide gas.