Joseph Black Essay

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Molly Schertz 6th Hour Joseph Black Joseph Black (See figure 1) was an exceptional scientist. He is noted for his fundamental work on latent and specific heats and for his discovery of the bicarbonates. Black was mostly known for the rediscovery of “fixed air” which is better known as carbon dioxide. In his college years, he was known for his experiments on the chemical properties of an alkali - mostly magnesia alba, which is now known as magnesium carbonate. These all led to greater discoveries that helped the science world. Born in Bordeaux on April 16, 1728, Joseph Black was one of 15 children. At the age of twelve he was sent off to school in Belfast to learn Latin and Greek. Four years later, he enrolled at Glasgow University (See figure 2) to study arts. After four years of college, his father convinced Black to take up something better than arts, so he decided upon medicine. While at Glasgow, he became influenced by the chemistry teacher, William Cullen. Different from all the other young students, he conducted chemical experiments in his professor’s laboratory. He ended up not graduating at Glasgow because he was more attracted to the University of Edinburgh, a more prestigious school. In order to graduate, the students had to prepare a thesis. It is here, where he conducted experiments on the chemical properties of magnesia alba. His work had to have some type of medical connection, so Joseph described the application of magnesia alba to help minor digestive disorders. He then received his medical degree in 1754. His research on the nature of alkalinity, laid the basis for the most important paper of his career, Experiments upon Magnesia Alba, Quicklime, and Some Other Alcaline Substances. This was given to the Philosophical Society of Edinburgh in 1755. During this time he was the first chemist to show that gases could be chemical substances in

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