Attention: You are using an outdated browser, device or you do not have the latest version of JavaScript downloaded and so this website may not work as expected. Please download the latest software or switch device to avoid further issues.

News > Archives & History > Life's a Gas

Life's a Gas

ODU hosts the College societies for a fascinating talk by Emeritus Professor Mike James.

Oxygen is essential to life, but the paradox is that the living things could not have evolved in the presence of atmospheric oxygen.  The early atmosphere contained no oxygen.  Cyanobacteria appeared around 2.7bn years ago by which time living bacteria could manage oxygen’s powerful destructive force.  Complex life forms emerged that could control the energy released by oxygen and turn it into biochemical power.  Mitochondria (bacteria engulfed into the emerging nucleated cells) provided internal energy using oxygen and were essential to the development of modern life.

The discovery of oxygen was tortuous.  Joseph Priestley first isolated ‘dephlogisticated air’ and showed the relationship between oxygen, plants and animals.  Antoine Lavoisier, using sophisticated equipment, showed that burning was the result of oxygen combining with various substances.  Respiration was internal burning.  He has been called the Father of Modern Chemistry.

Written by Mike James, Emeritus Professor, UCT

Similar stories

Johan Loubser (1961O) captured this historic picture. His father taught at the Prep for 41 years. More...

The familiar faces of Dr. Kathy Wheeler, Kristina Miller, Jennifer Leak, Mary van Blerk, Helena le Roux, and Andre Ross. More...

In the Photo above: Tembeka Ngcukaitobi and the ODA - both speakers at the Festival.

The ODA Paul Murray was invited to speak at the recent Festival. His topic was "Cradock as a Garrison Town". More...

A Glimpse into Bishops' History and Theology More...

Today the ODA placed proteas on the graves of Robert and Sophia Gray to commemorate the death of Robert who died on 01 S… More...

Most read

Paul Getaz (1962,O) passed away at the age of 79 in Johnson City, Tennessee on 20 March More...

L to R - Elisa Raveglia from Bocconi, Lutho Cutshwa OD and Mia Rogers.

Lutho Cutshwa (2023W) is off to study for a BSc in International Economics and Finance. More...

Have your say

 
This website is powered by
ToucanTech