The chemical element Oxygen (Symbol O) was discovered by Joseph Priestley (1733–1804). The minister and scientist was born on this day in Leeds, England.
"In completing one discovery we never fail to get an imperfect knowledge of others of which we could have no idea before, so that we cannot solve one doubt without creating several new ones," he observed.
The deeply religious Priestly tried to find ways for science to improve and celebrate life. A meeting with Benjamin Franklin in 1766 inspired Priestly to further study electricity and write History of Electricity (1767).
Priestly then focused his research on gases, discovering oxygen in 1774. This discovery laid the foundation for the understanding of the oxygen-carbon dioxide interaction of living things.
"Most new discoveries are suddenly-seen things that were always there," observed philosopher Susanne K. Langer.
The inquisitive Priestly should also be called the "father of soda pop," since his discovery of soda water led to a carbonated beverage craze in Europe... and eventually the world.
During his lifetime, Priestly discovered 20 "airs" including nitrous oxide, sulfur dioxide, hydrogen chloride, carbon monoxide, and ammonia. Now that's a lot of gas...
Keep it simple.