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Black Joseph

Black, Joseph, chemist, was born in 1728 at Bordeaux of Scottish parentage. He studied in Belfast, Glasgow, and Edinburgh, where his celebrated graduation thesis, De humore acido a cibis orto, et magnesia alba, was presented to the medical faculty June 11, 1754 - a thesis that revolutionised chemistry and paved the way for Cavendish, Lavoisier, and Priestley. After this came his discovery of latent heat (q.v.), of which, however, he failed to publish a detailed account. In 1756 he had been appointed to the chair of anatomy and chemistry in Glasgow university, but exchanged duties with the professor of medicine on account of the anatomy, which he felt he was not sufficiently qualified to teach. In 1766 he received the appointment to the chair of medicine and chemistry in Edinburgh, where he chiefly devoted himself to his professional duties and made his class the most popular in the university. Though M. Deluc, a Frenchman, in 1788 claimed to be the author of the theory of latent heat, yet it is upon this discovery that Black's fame chiefly rests. He died in 1799.