Thursday, May 17, 2018

A Little Bit of Fizz

I ate too much at lunch.  My stomach is like a rock in my mid-section and I have a food baby.

Enter the carbonated beverage.  Thank heavens for those tiny bubbles.  They're my go-to whenever I've consumed more than my good sense should allow me to.

My entry into the 2012 Quilting Arts "Coffee or Tea" challenge.

I don't drink soda anymore, but I almost always prefer cold and fizzy drinks to something warm.  (And let me stop you right there.  No, I don't drink tea or coffee.)  As I sipped my "tonic" this afternoon, I wondered about carbonation.  So I did a bit of digging.

Here's some of what I learned:

* "Impregnating Water with Fixed Air" was the name of the 1772 scientific pamphlet written by scientist Joseph Priestly, describing the apparatus he designed to instill water with carbon dioxide bubbles.  (Fixed air = carbon dioxide) His initial intent was to discover a way to limit meat putrefaction aboard ships and combat scurvy.

* Joseph Priestly, it turns out, was a very important scientist.   He's credited with identifying eight different gases including oxygen, which was named by someone else.

* Priestly described the carbonated water he created as "an exceedingly pleasant sparkling water, resembling Seltzer water." To be clear, Priestly wasn't referring to what we know as seltzer water.  Instead, he was referencing the properties of the waters found in the springs around Seltzer, Germany. Many historians consider this discovery to be critical to the development of pneumatic chemistry.  ("Powerful Effervescence," Science History, 2008)

* Jacob Schweppe, an amateur scientist and an acquaintance of Priestly's, expanded on Priestly's work. In the 1780s, Schweppe introduced artificially created sparkling mineral water.  It was the precursor to today's carbonated beverage industry and, with the introduction of some flavored syrups, evolved into Schweppe's Ginger Ale.

* Some sources say that Thomas Jefferson sought Priestly's advice as Jefferson planned University of Virginia.

* Priestly was a highly regarded polymath and his scientific books were best sellers. 


Sorry that I didn't recognize your name, Mr. Priestly, or your accomplishments.

Joseph Priestly
© Royal Society of Chemistry, Library


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