Monthly Archives: November 2013

The Life and Works of Joseph Priestley

Take a deep breath.  Feel that? That’s oxygen, moving into your lungs and bloodstream.  Many scientists are credited with helping discover and name this element, including Antione Lavosier.  But the man who was the first to pin down this important … Continue reading

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Early Life

Joseph Priestly was born on March 13, 1733 in Birstall Fieldhead, England [3]. He was the oldest of six children born to Mary Swift and Jonas Priestley, a finisher of cloth. To ease the family’s burdens, Priestley was sent to live … Continue reading

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Joseph Priestley Memorial Chapel

Priestley’s religiousness carried over to the U.S. when he came here later in life.  The Joseph Priestley Memorial Chapel is the oldest church building in the Borough of Northumberland, PA.  The chapel was built in 1834 by members of the … Continue reading

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Priestley in Politics

Priestley was also politically involved.  He was a supporter of both the American and French Revolutions. He saw them as the beginning of Armageddon, as foretold in the Bible. These views, which he made no effort to hide, were considered … Continue reading

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Experiments

Priestley’s first scientific work, The History of Electricity, was encouraged by Benjamin Franklin, who he had met in London. With these urgings from his new, greatly influential friend, Priestley began to perform experiments. At first they were merely to reproduce … Continue reading

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Experiments (cont. 2)

The world recalls Priestley best as the man who discovered oxygen, the active ingredient in our planet’s atmosphere. In the process, he helped dethrone an idea that dominated science for 23 uninterrupted centuries: Few concepts “have laid firmer hold upon … Continue reading

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Experiments (cont. 3)

As he was doing these experiments, Priestley made an enormously important observation. A flame went out when placed in a jar in which a mouse would die due to lack of air. In other words, he had a flame and … Continue reading

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