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Hayden Alford

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CH-396X-01

Question #2

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Joseph Priestley, Antoine Lavoisier, and Henry Cavendish each played a significant role in the advancement of chemistry over the spans of their lives. Of those three, Antoine Lavoisier was the most well known during his lifetime, and also had the most lasting effect on modern chemistry. In addition to being a chemist, Antoine Lavoisier was involved in political assemblies where he used his public influence to promote his work as a chemist. As a result, the French nobleman was very well known throughout his lifetime. Lavoisier is best known for his simplified chemical nomenclature and his discovery of the nature of burning that contradicted phlogiston theory. Lavoisier used the discoveries of Priestley and Cavendish as a stepping stone to further advance his research of combustion. The French chemist is often regarded as the “Father of Modern Chemistry”. He transformed the language of chemistry from something ambiguous that was generated from the ancient days of alchemy to terms that were less confusing, resulting in a rejuvenation of the study of chemistry. Lavoisier is credited with naming Priestley’s dephlogisticated air oxygen, the same name that is still used today. In the words of the mathematician, Lagrange, on the day Lavoisier was executed, “it took but a moment to cut off that head, though a hundred years perhaps will be required to produce another like it.” (Jaffe 71)



B. Jaffe. Crucibles: The Story of Chemistry, 4th, Dover Publications Inc., New York, USA, (1976) pp. (37-83)


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