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Jan Ingenhousz was born in 1730 in the city of Breda in what is today the southern Netherlands. Ingenhousz became a leading proponent of variolation, an early method used to immunize patients against smallpox (Variola) that involved inoculating patients with smallpox virus taken from patients with a mild form of the disease. The following year, the Austro-Hungarian ruler, Maria Theresa, who had been scarred by smallpox, read about the success of the English campaign against the disease and decided to have her family treated, though her own doctors were against it. In 1779, Ingenhousz returned to England and traveled to Calne, a small town in southwestern part of the country.
Actually, the Swedish chemist Carl Wilhelm Scheele (1742-1786) discovered oxygen before Priestly but didn't receive credit because Priestley published his findings first.
In the experiment leading to his discovery, he placed plants underwater in a transparent container and saw that the undersides of their leaves made bubbles in sunlight. In 1785, Ingenhousz reported that under a microscope he had observed irregular movement of coal dust on the surface of alcohol.
Jan Ingenhousz also made a study of electricity and met with Benjamin Franklin and Henry Cavendish, the discoverer of hydrogen, to discuss the phenomenon.
Priestley himself deserves some of the credit for the discovery of photosynthesis, as Ingenhousz (1779, p. At 16, he began his study of medicine at the University of Leuven, the oldest and most prominent university in Belgium.


He settled there until the year his father died (1764), but then decided to travel to England to learn the latest techniques in smallpox immunization. During an epidemic in Hertfordshire in 1767, he successfully used this method to immunize 700 people against smallpox and, soon after, provided the same service to the family of King George III. She wrote to George for his advice concerning the best physician and on his recommendation chose Ingenhousz, who traveled to Austria and successfully variolated her three youngest children.
There, at Bowood House, the country manor of the Marquis of Lansdowne, in the same laboratory where his colleague Joseph Priestley had discovered oxygen itself only a few years before, Ingenhousz carried out his research on photosynthesis. However, when the same plants were placed in darkness, the bubbles eventually stopped forming.
He eventually found that a smoldering candle would burst into flame when exposed to the unknown gas, which showed it was oxygen (Ingenhousz, 1779, see full citation below). He thus described Brownian motion at a much earlier date than did Robert Brown (1827), the English investigator for whom the phenomenon is named.
Experiments upon vegetables, discovering their great power of purifying the common air in the sun-shine, and of injuring it in the shade and at night. Showed light is essential to plant respiration and that the gas plants produce in light is oxygen. In this enterprise he was assisted by a family friend, Sir John Pringle, then President of the Royal Society.


As a result, he became the personal physician both of Maria Theresa and of her son Joseph II. He was also able to see that the leaves and other green (chlorophyll-containing) parts of the plants were the sites where the gas was produced. To which is joined, a new method of examining the accurate degree of salubrity of the atmosphere, London. Whitney would go on, most famously, to invent the cotton gin, which revolutionized cotton production in the antebellum South.
He then studied two additional years at the University of Leiden, where he attended lectures by Pieter van Musschenbroek, an experience that sparked his lifelong interest in electricity. While in England he became personally acquainted with such famous personalities as Benjamin Franklin, Henry Cavendish and Joseph Priestley. Ingenhousz lived the next ten years in Vienna, where in 1775 he married Agatha Maria Jacquin.




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