Joseph Black

Portrait of Joseph Black

Joseph Black was born in 1728 in France, the son of a Scottish wine merchant, he went on to become a famous scientist in the field of chemistry and taught at Glasgow and Edinburgh University in a long and illustrious career.

He was the first scientist to discover that air was made of a range of different gases when he isolated carbon dioxide and observed that mice could not breathe when placed in a purely carbon dioxide environment. He also developed the theory of latent heat.

He was apparently a great teacher attracting students from all over the world and he influenced James Watt who was a friend of his. Black also found time to practice as a physician and he worked as an industrial consultant on bleaching, dyeing, fertilisers, iron making and water supply.

He died in 1799 and is buried in Greyfriars Kirkyard in Edinburgh.