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Cucurbits, used by Joseph Black

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possibly made at Leith

Cucurbits, used by Joseph Black
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A cucurbit is used under an alembic for boiling distillates. These glass examples were used in classroom demonstrations or experiments by Professor Joseph Black (1728-99) at Edinburgh University. They were made in the late 18th century, possibly at Leith.

Made from dark green glass, the cucurbit sat below the alembic (not shown here). As the mixture boiled within, it evaporated and condensed in the alembic, where it ran off after cooling against the top.

With his separation and identification of the first gas distinct from air (carbon dioxide), Black may be considered the father of pneumatic chemistry. Other gases, notably oxygen and nitrogen, were discovered in quick succession by other scientists.

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