But the eighteenth century was scarcely less prolific in other great discoveries. In astronomy we have through Kant and Laplace clear statements of the nebular hypothesis, vaguely conceived by Anaximander and partially formulated by Tycho Brahe. In chemistry we have the discovery of oxygen, doubtless first by Priestley, but independently  the same year (1774), though somewhat later, by Scheele, and also, as it is claimed, independently in 1775 by Lavoisier and Trudaine, all of which shows that the world was ripe for it. Nitrogen was certainly discovered by Scheele but Cavendish a little later placed its existence on a firm basis. The discovery of sodium and potassium by Davy and of iodine by Gay-Lussac soon followed, and the chemical elements began to be known. But perhaps the most signal of all the chemical advances of that period was the discovery by Lavoisier of the true nature of combustion and the overthrow of the metaphysical doctrine of phlogiston. Man had known fire as long as he had known water and much longer than he had known air, but never before did he know in what fire essentially consists. A committee of the French Academy successfully repeated Lavoisier’s experiments in 1790, a congratulatory meeting was held in Paris, and in the presence of the assembled savants Madame Lavoisier, attired as a priestess of science, burned on an altar erected for the purpose the great work of Stahl: “Fundamenta Chemise Dogmaticæ et Experimentalis,” embodying the exploded theory, while a band played a solemn requiem over its ashes! (Ward 1919:536-7)
WARD, Lester. 1919. Pure sociology: a treatise on the origin and spontaneous development of society. New York: The Macmillan Company.