What did Joseph Priestley do to benefit society and the scientific population?

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bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Englishman Joseph Priestley (1733-1804) is best known for his discovery and work with oxygen in its gaseous state. He discovered several gases, which he called "airs," including nitrous oxide, nitric oxide, ammonia, and anhydrous hydrochloric acid. He is also credited with inventing soda water, which he falsely believed would be a cure for scurvy. A devout Christian, he was a founder of Unitarianism and attempted to combine his scientific and religious idealism into one unified philosophy. He was also an educator and writer, producing influential work on English grammar, history, philosophy, and religion. His history of electricity was considered the finest of its kind for more than a century. He also wrote about his pivotal experiments with optics, pneumatics and chemistry.