The Age of ScienceJoseph Priestly was born at Fieldhead near Birstall, West Yorkshire. He was the oldest of the six children born to Mary Swift and Jonas Priestly.
As a baby, Priestly was sent to live with his grandfather; his mother died five years later, so he returned home. In 1741, Priestly moved in with his rich aunt and uncle.
Because Priestly was gifted, his aunt sought the best education for the boy, with the intention of steering him towards a life in the ministry.
Priestly was taught Greek, Latin, and Hebrew. After an illness, Priestly was left with a stutter which deterred him from becoming a full time minister. His theology and politics shifted and theologically he became a Rational Dissenter, these people emphasized the rational analysis of the natural world and the Bible.
He had discovered oxygen (O2). 143Carl Scheele of Sweden is also said to have discovered it at the same time. Priestly also described the isolation and identification of other gases such as ammonia, sulphur dioxide, nitrous oxide and nitrogen dioxide.
Priestly was a French revolutionary sympathiser which did not go down well in English society, after having his house attacked and being constantly hounded by the anti-revolutionaries immigrated to the United States in 1794 where he was welcomed with open arms. He died some 10 years later. Joseph Black was born in Bordeaux, France in 1728. His father was a wine merchant from Belfast and his mother was Scottish. At the age of 18 he attended Medical school at Glasgow University. He furthered his medical studies at Edinburgh. This is where his most famous experiments took place. His experiments helped to pave a way for future scientists.
Joseph Black can be described as the first of the scientific chemists, as distinguished from medical chemists.
During 1752-1753 Black occupied himself with researching for a solvent for urinary calculi. He discovered by accident the difference between limestone and quicklime and this was produced by the expulsion of “fixed air” (discovered by Van Helmont)
In 1782 the first real step to the science of anaesthesia was taken when Joseph Black became the first person to isolate carbon dioxide into its pure state and at the time he called it fixed air, as it could combine with a solid, this was a small step in terms of anaesthetic properties but a giant step in the breakthrough for science as it led to modern chemistry and eventually atomic research.