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The Most Important Discovery of Science

  • John W. SeveringhausEmail author
Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 876)

Abstract

Oxygen has often been called the most important discovery of science. I disagree. Over five centuries, reports by six scientists told of something in air we animals all need. Three reported how to generate it. It acquired many names, finally oxygen. After 8 years of studying it, Lavoisier still couldn’t understand its nature. No special date and no scientist should get credit for discovering oxygen. Henry Cavendish discovered how to make inflammable air (H2). When burned, it made water. This was called impossible because water was assumed to be an element. When Lavoisier repeated the Cavendish test on June 24, 1783, he realized it demolished two theories, phlogiston and water as an element, a Kuhnian paradigm shift that finally unlocked his great revolution of chemistry.

Keywords

Plagiarism Cavendish, Henry Sendivogius, Michael Discoveries of oxygen Scheele, Carl Wilhelm 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Anaesthesiology and Cardiovascular Research Institute, University of CaliforniaSan FranciscoUSA

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