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

David Walsh a member of the tour, second row in the middle of the photograph.

A great friend of Bishops, David Walsh reminiscences about his visit as part of the touring team in January 1966. More...

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...

Most read

Calling all our Canadian OD's who live in and around Toronto. Catch up with OD winemakers at the wine tasting experience that is happening in Toronto. More...

The 22nd edition Bishops Blue Pages More...

Join us for the highly anticipated VUSA 24-Hour Cycle Challenge on 24-25 August brought to you by Investec. More...

Have your say

 
This website is powered by
ToucanTech