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Wednesday, 30 November 2016



Oxygen was discovered independently by Carl Scheele, Joseph Priestley and Antoine Lavoisier. Scheele was first to discover the chemical element, Priestley was first to publish his findings, while Lavoisier was first to isolate it and understand its true nature.

Priestley published his findings in 1775 in a paper titled "An Account of Further Discoveries in Air" which was included in the second volume of his book titled Experiments and Observations on Different Kinds of Air. Because he informed the world first, Priestley is usually given priority in the discovery of oxygen.

Pneumatic trough, glass collecting cylinders and other equipment used by Priestley in his experiments

Lavoiser named the chemical element from two Greek roots, “oxys” (acid) and “genes” (producer) as he thought mistakenly that all acids contained oxygen.

More than 200 years before oxy- was a prefix indicating a process involving oxygen, it was used to mean pertaining to an ox.

Besides isolating and naming oxygen in 1778 Lavoisier also gave hydrogen its name in 1783.

After the French Revolution, Lavoisier was accused of selling adulterated tobacco and of other crimes and died at the guillotine in 1794.

The first measurable quantity of liquid oxygen was produced by Polish professors Zygmunt Wróblewski and Karol Olszewski at the Jagiellonian University in Kraków on April 5, 1883.


By mass, oxygen is the third most abundant element, after hydrogen and helium.

About 21 per cent of the Earth’s atmosphere consists of oxygen.

It requires seven to eight trees to provide enough oxygen for just one person per year.

Oxygen accounts for about two-thirds of the weight of a human body.

Seventy per cent of the oxygen we breath is produced by plants such as seaweed in the oceans.


Oxygen gas is colorless, tasteless and odorless; however, the liquid and solid forms are a pale blue color.

Liquid oxygen is strongly paramagnetic; it can be suspended between the poles of a powerful horseshoe magnet.

Completion of a liquid oxygen delivery by truck. By Walter Baxter, Wikipedia

Breathing 100% oxygen—instead of the 21% in our atmosphere—can create tons of free radicals in our bodies and cause tissue damage.

When oxygen first developed on Earth, it wiped out nearly 99% of all life.

Tiny ocean plankton perform half of all photosynthesis and oxygen production on Earth.

Two atoms of the element can bind to form dioxygen, a colorless and odorless gas that constitutes 20.8% of the Earth's atmosphere, produced by photosynthesis from water and carbon dioxide.


The American scientist Robert H. Goddard was the first person to develop a rocket engine that burned liquid fuel; the engine used gasoline for fuel and liquid oxygen as the oxidizer. Goddard successfully flew a small liquid-fueled rocket 56 m at 97 km/h on March 16, 1926 in Auburn, Massachusetts.

Robert H. Goddard and a liquid oxygen-gasoline rocket

The oxygen masks on airlines have empty bags to catch the stream of oxygen in between your breaths so it isn’t wasted.

Smelting of iron ore into steel consumes 55% of commercially produced oxygen.

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