Although there has been some controversy surrounding exactly when oxygen was first discovered, it is likely that that accolade should go to Carl Wilhelm Scheele, who isolated oxygen in 1772, or even a year earlier. Others since then have been given the credit for the instrumental work leading to the discovery including Joseph Priestley in 1774 and Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier. Oxygen, a paramagnetic, diradical gaseous (at room temperature) molecule, is instrumental to life as we know it. It is also crucial to some medical therapies, used in multiple industries and has even been found on other planets. The importance of oxygen cannot be overplayed. Now, 250 years since oxygen was discovered, it is timely to revisit some of the history, the controversies and look at how oxygen has evolved during that time. Here, a few of the highlights in oxygen research are discussed.
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