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Mini Biographies of Scots and Scots Descendants (B)
Black, Joseph


(1728-1799) He became a founder of modern chemistry in 1754 when he presented, as a thesis for his doctoral degree at Edinburgh University, an experiment in which he rediscovered carbon dioxide and proved that it existed distinct from common air. In 1756 he proved that carbon dioxide existed in calcium carbonate (chalk). These revolutionary ideas, that air was composed of more than one gas and that a gas could exist in a solid, were soon taken up enthusiastically by others, including Lavoisier, and produced a radical change in the direction of science. He was also the discoverer of the principle of latent heat, which led to the achievements of James Watt and others. Black, whose father was in the wine trade, was born in Bordeaux to parents of Scottish ancestry from Belfast.

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