Daniel Rutherford

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Daniel Rutherford

Daniel Rutherford (born November 3, 1749 in Edinburgh , † November 15, 1819 ibid) was a Scottish chemist and botanist . He is the discoverer of the chemical element nitrogen . Its official botanical author's abbreviation is “ Rutherf. "

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He was the son of the Edinburgh doctor John Rutherford and his second wife Anne MacKay.

Rutherford received his academic training from Edinburgh University . As a student, he was inspired to study the properties of carbon dioxide by Joseph Black , who had previously discovered that a candle would not burn in this gas.

Rutherford put a mouse in a sealed container of air until it died. Then he lit a candle until it went out. Then he burned off phosphorus until it also went out. Next, he let the remaining air through a solution that absorbed carbon dioxide. The remaining air did not allow any more combustion . Rutherford reported this experiment in 1772.

Both Black and Rutherford were staunch phlogists , so they tried to explain the results in this way: as the mouse breathed and the candle burned, phlogiston was released into the air, forming carbon dioxide. As soon as the carbon dioxide was later absorbed, the air was still filled with phlogiston. In fact, in their opinion, the air was saturated so that objects could no longer burn.

Based on this theory, Rutherford called the newly isolated gas "phlogistic air". Today we call it nitrogen .

In 1778 he also described the "vital air", oxygen . In 1786 he was appointed Regius Professor of Materia Medica and Botany for Materia Medica and Botany in Edinburgh and was responsible for the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh there . In 1783 he was a founding member of the Royal Society of Edinburgh .

Daniel Rutherford was an uncle of Sir Walter Scott and died in Edinburgh on November 15, 1819.


Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Fellows Directory. Biographical Index: Former RSE Fellows 1783–2002. (PDF file) Royal Society of Edinburgh, accessed April 4, 2020 .