Q:

How was oxygen discovered?

A:

Chemists Carl Scheele and Joseph Priestley, working in 1772 and 1774 respectively, heated several compound gases, releasing one that optimized combustion, as shown by the brightness of a test candle flame. Chemist Antoine Lavoisier, performing similar tests, found that air is about one-fifth oxygen. Lavoisier gave oxygen its name.

Know More

Full Answer

Earlier scientists had found clues of oxygen's existence. Leonardo da Vinci found that respiration and combustion consume a small fraction of the air present, and in 1668, John Mayow wrote about a substance he called "nitroarial spirit" that burning and breathing consumed; he was unknowingly describing oxygen.

Scheele's experiments involved heating manganese oxide, potassium nitrate and mercury oxide, while Priestley worked solely with mercury oxide. Priestley thought the gas would be toxic, and so he set a mouse inside a jar of oxygen, expecting it to suffocate quickly, but the mouse stayed in the jar for an hour without any ill effects.

Lavoisier's experiments with oxygen also found that heating mercury oxide released a weight of gas identical to the weight that the mercury oxide solid lost in the process. When this proved consistent through the heating of other materials, he devised the law of the conservation of matter, which stated that the mass of the initial materials in a chemical reaction is the same as the mass of the products at the end.

Learn more in Environmental Science
Sources:

Related Questions

  • Q:

    How do plants help the environment?

    A:

    By absorbing carbon dioxide from the air and producing the oxygen needed for life, green plants form the basis for the long-term health and sustainability of all environmental systems. Plants are the only organisms on Earth that can manufacture their own food by converting the sun's solar energy into food.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    How do the carbon dioxide and oxygen cycles work?

    A:

    The carbon dioxide and oxygen cycles work through processes that convert carbon in the atmosphere into oxygen and transform oxygen back into carbon dioxide. Plants are the main producers of oxygen through a process called photosynthesis. They use carbon dioxide and sunlight to produce energy and release oxygen into the atmosphere.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    Why is milfoil bad for the lake?

    A:

    Water milfoil depletes the oxygen of a lake, increases sediment and robs other plants of sunlight. Milfoil decreases biodiversity and, while edible, is a poor food source for aquatic wildlife.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    How can you save battery power on a Samsung Galaxy S3?

    A:

    The three main ways to save battery power in a Samsung Galaxy S3 is to disable some of the connectivity, put it in power saving mode and reduce the brightness of the screen. There are other things that reduce the number of applications and functions that are running which can also help.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:

Explore