The existence of nitrogen was observed by Carl W. Scheele in 1772. He called it foul air, as it remained as an atmospheric residue after the removal of oxygen. Lavoisier independently discovered the element and named it azote owing to its inability to support life. Chemical historians attribute the actual discovery of nitrogen to Dr. Daniel Rutherford, a Scottish physician, botanist and chemist. Dr. Rutherford’s distinguished nephew, Sir Walter Scott, wrote about his uncle and physician, “Prosecuting medical studies at the University of Edinburgh he early discovered the existence of a gaseous fluid now known as nitrogen gas.” Although many distinguished chemists almost simultaneously recognized the presence of this substance in the air, Sir William Ramsay stated, “Rutherford may well be credited with the discovery of nitrogen.” The name nitrogen was suggested by the distinguished chemist J. A. C. Chaptal, after Cavendish had prepared niter (potassium nitrate or salt petre) by sparking the new gas with oxygen in the presence of caustic potash. (Weeks, 1960).


Angina Pectoris Sodium Nitrite Isosorbide Dinitrate Organic Nitrate Depressor Response 
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© Springer-Verlag Berlin · Heidelberg 1975

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  • John C. Krantz

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