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Jan Ingenhousz

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Blue plaque, Church Street, Calne - - 810869.jpg

Jan Ingen-Housz FRS (8 December 1730 – 7 September 1799) was a Dutch physiologist, biologist and chemist. Priestley had 1774 the element of oxygen (dephlogistic air) isolated as part of the air and found that "foul air" could be refreshed by plants again. However, it was puzzling under what conditions this happened. This was in contradiction to the observations of the chemist Carl Wilhelm Scheele, who stated that plants can worsen the air.

To clarify these different observations Ingenhousz carried out after his return from Vienna in 1779 by extensive series of experiments. The results he published in the script experiment "upon ..." In it, he stated that plants in the dark carbon dioxide (fixed air) release this under the action of light - depending on the intensity - absorb and release oxygen. He also showed that the carbon that plants need to grow is not extracted from the soil (as previously thought), but comes from the ambient air. He had discovered that light is necessary for the growth and air purification (of animal breath) of plants; this was the beginning of photosynthesis research. His research also influenced Antoine de Lavoisier Ingenhousz repeated a remarkable experiment by Priestley. It was discovered that a mouse could live in an enclosed space if there was also a plant in the space. This plant provided new oxygen every time and the mouse turned it into carbon dioxide for the plant.

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