The Jeuns

Oxygen Discovery Anniversary Celebrated with Mural

April 28, 2024 | by The Jeuns

An upcoming mural in Calne, Wiltshire will honor the scientist Joseph Priestley, who discovered oxygen 250 years ago. Local artist Oli Knowles is set to create the artwork, with plans to start in June and complete it in time for the anniversary in August.

The mural, organized by the charity Calne Clean Up Crew, aims to pay tribute to Priestley’s groundbreaking discovery. Cath Crofts, a volunteer with the charity, described the artwork as an “everlasting remembrance” of Priestley’s achievement.

Joseph Priestley, born on March 13, 1733, is hailed as one of the pioneers of modern chemistry due to his significant contributions to experimental science. In 1774, while working at Bowood House, Priestley conducted an experiment that led to the identification of oxygen.

Using a “burning lens,” Priestley focused sunlight on a sample of mercuric oxide, resulting in the production of a gas that he named ‘dephlogisticated air.’ This gas, later renamed oxygen by Antoine Lavoisier, was found to be superior to common air. Priestley is also credited with the discovery of several other gases.

The mural in Calne will center around a scientific theme, displaying the tools and equipment used in Priestley’s experiment. The Calne Clean Up Crew, which has previously created murals in the area, hopes the artwork will spark curiosity and promote further discovery among viewers.

Overall, the mural serves as a testament to Priestley’s remarkable contribution to science and will add vibrancy to the town of Calne.


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