3 important men in science

August 7, 2009
Johann Baptista van Helmont

1577 - 1644

Johann Baptista van Helmont, also known as van Helmont was once a mixture between a chemist and alchemy (A medieval chemical philosophy having as its asserted aims the transmutation of base metals into gold, the discovery of the panacea, and the preparation of the elixir of longevity.). Actually van Helmont once claimed to have seen Mercury (Hg) transformed into Gold (Cu) with the help of the philosophers stone. Still, that is not why he is so famous in the science world, van Helmont is very well known for his experiments, he experimented with carbon dioxide where he discovered sulphuric acid, nitric acid, and nitrogen oxide by having gasses produced. Van Helmont is said to be the first person to apply the name “gas” to the family of substances. Once of van Helmont’s experiments is known as “The Growth of Plants” it is filed under “Plant Physiology”.

Joseph Priestly


Did you ever wonder who discovered Oxygen? Joseph Priestly discovered it, he discovered it during an examination of gases (ammonia and nitrogen). Preistly’s finding of Oxygen inspired a French Chemist and Physiologist named Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier. Priestly was not only a Chemist, he was also an author. Joseph Priestly published on electricity theology, politics, and linguistics, along with that he also held a job as a minister and teacher. Priestly was not always known for being a Chemist, in reality he was recognized as an official Chemist in 1766 with the publication of, The History and Present State of Electricity, which held original experiments and his own thoughts on the matter.

Jan Ingenhousz


Jan Ingenhousz was a man with three jobs. He was a physician, chemist, and engineer! But what is he known for? Ingenhousz is known for his demonstration of photosynthesis in plants. In 1779 Ingenhousz published a book Experiments upon Vegetables--Discovering Their Great Power of Purifying the Common Air in the Sunshine and of Injuring It in the Shade and at Night . In the book he described that what Joseph Priestly had found in plants is what we today call: Photosynthesis (that is, the process by which plants exude oxygen and absorb carbon dioxide, thus purifying the air for animals and man.) Most scientists at the time were preoccupied with other things, while Ingenhousz had his eyes fixed on the independence of plants and animals. Later in life, Ingenhousz built electrical machines, and invented the plate electric machine.

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