By Bernard Jaffe
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Additional info for Crucibles: The Story of Chemistry - From Ancient Alchemy to Nuclear Fission
The burning lens was so placed outside the belljar that the heat of the sun was concentrated upon the solid to be tested. With this apparatus, he endeavored, on Sunday, the first of August, 1774, "to extract air from mercurus calcmatus per $e" a red powder known to 38 CRUCIBLES: THE STORY OF CHEMISTRY Geber and made by heating mercury in the air. " But there was nothing startling about this. Others before him had obtained gases by heating solids. Scheele, the great Swedish apothecary chemist, had obtained the same results three years before by collecting "empyreal" air.
Surely Cavendish had proved that the gas came, not from the acids or water in the bottles, but from the metals themselves! But he must not announce this until he had investigated furtherit would not do to startle the world before he had made certain he was right. " Though extremely light he found it actually had weight. It was ponderable. He had nailed phlogiston itselfl Now, at the age of thirty-five, he published an account of this work on Factitious Airs in the Transactions of the Royal Society.
He was amazed at the result The gases suddenly disappeared and in their place was formed a beautiful white cloud which gradually settled out as a fine white powder. A great chemical change had taken place a deep-seated change. Two pungent gases had united to form an odorless white powderammonium chloride, now used as an electrolyte in the dry battery. Thus in the space of a few years Priestley, eager devotee of PRIESTLEY to made 37 number of significant discoveries. He began spend more and more time in his makeshift laboratory.
Crucibles: The Story of Chemistry - From Ancient Alchemy to Nuclear Fission by Bernard Jaffe