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Joseph Black (1728 - 1799):
Chemist and physician


Joseph Black was an eminent chemist and physician, born inBordeaux of Belfast parents. He was educated, initially at home by his mother, then in Belfast and at the Universities of Glasgow and Edinburgh. In 1754 he took the degree of Doctor of Medicine, and his inaugural thesis was regarded highly by the pneumatic school of medicine. He made valuable observations about 'fixed air' (carbon dioxide) and was appointed Professor of Chemistry at Glasgow in 1756 and began research into the nature and properties of heat. Lavoisier, who developed Black's theories, recommended him as an Associate of the Academie Royale des Sciences in Paris. In 1766 he became Professor of Chemistry at Edinburgh University. He was artisitic and musical and belonged to many learned societies both in England and Europe. He died suddenly 'and was discovered sitting before his usual frugal meal of bread, prunes and milk - his death had been so calm that the mug of milk set down upon his knee remained unspilled'. James Watt's first steam engine used Black's research and he is acknowledged for having laid the foundation of modern chemistry. His Lectures on Chemistry were published in many editions.

Born: 16 April 1728
Died: 6 December 1799
Kate Newmann