Experiments and Observations on Different Kinds of Air


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Joseph Priestley, FRS (13 March 1733 (O.S.) – 6 February 1804) was an 18th-century English theologian, Dissenting clergyman, natural philosopher, chemist, educator, and political theorist who published over 150 works. In “Experiments and Observations on Different Kinds of Air,” he reviews experiments with gases. A common theme in this work is measuring the volumes of gases held in glass tubes, and their increase or decrease when exposed to other substances. He also tests the effects of gases on mice, plants and insects.

Priestley demonstrated that fixed air (now known as CO2) can be produced from several reactions including alcoholic fermentation, combustion and a mixture of oil of vitriol and chalk (sulfuric acid and calcium oxide). He also showed that it is soluble in water, and that its toxic effects can be reduced when agitated in water. In other experiments, he showed that combinations of gases can mix to form a smaller volume than the sum of both separate gases, as when he combined common air (atmospheric air) with nitrous air (nitric oxide, NO).

For some experiments, Priestley tests whether the properties of gases change when stored. He finds that inflammable air (hydrogen, H2 or a mixture of hydrocarbons) becomes less flammable but retains its toxic properties.

Also interested in electricity, Priestley tests the effects of gases on sparks. While he finds that gases are generally good insulators, he also finds that some gases change the colors of electric sparks. He also discovers that some mixtures of air explode in their entirety, while others must be combined with common air in order to burn.

Priestley uses several terms common to the study of natural philosophy, or chemical experiments as known today. Some of the terms are parts of obsolete theories or are old names for chemicals now given standard names. To better understand Priestley's observations, the following terms are defined according to their present names. here (8 hr 5 min)

Chapters

PREFACE 21:38 Read by LivelyHive
INTRODUCTION, Sect. 1, 2 30:05 Read by LivelyHive
PART I, Sect. I. Of Fixed Air 27:37 Read by LivelyHive
PART I, Sect. II. Of Air in which a Candle, or Brimstone, has burned out 16:53 Read by LivelyHive
PART I, Sect. III. Of inflammable Air 21:09 Read by LivelyHive
PART I, Sect. IV. Of Air infected with Animal Respiration, or Putrefaction, 1 o… 27:18 Read by LivelyHive
PART I, Sect. IV. Of Air infected with Animal Respiration, or Putrefaction, 2 o… 24:08 Read by LivelyHive
PART I, Sect. V. Of Air in which a mixture of Brimstone and Filings of Iron has… 4:36 Read by LivelyHive
PART I, Sect. VI. Of Nitrous Air 30:10 Read by LivelyHive
PART I, Sect. VII. Of Air infected with the fumes of burning Charcoal 6:02 Read by LivelyHive
PART I, Sect. VIII. Of the effect of the calcination of Metals, and of the effl… 14:35 Read by LivelyHive
PART I, Sect. IX. Of Marine Acid Air 16:08 Read by LivelyHive
PART I, Sect. X. Miscellaneous Observations 11:15 Read by LivelyHive
PART II, Sect. I. Observations on Alkaline Air 19:00 Read by LivelyHive
PART II, Sect. II. Of common Air diminished, and made noxious by various proces… 36:13 Read by LivelyHive
PART II,Sect. III. Of Nitrous Air 35:58 Read by LivelyHive
PART II,Sect. IV. Of Marine Acid Air 17:04 Read by LivelyHive
PART II,Sect. V. Of Inflammable Air 8:26 Read by LivelyHive
PART II, Sect. VI. Of Fixed Air, Sect. VII. Miscellaneous Experiments 12:41 Read by LivelyHive
PART II, Sect. VIII. Queries, Speculations, and Hints 42:08 Read by LivelyHive
APPENDIX, Numbers I, II 17:15 Read by LivelyHive
APPENDIX, Number III 24:55 Read by LivelyHive
APPENDIX, Numbers IV, V, VI, VII 19:52 Read by LivelyHive