John Mayow, English physician, 1674.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Engraving. John Mayow (1641-1679) studied law and medicine at Wadham College, Oxford from 1658. As a Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford, Mayow became interested in respiration. By observing a mouse in a glas container he was able to deduce that as the mouse breathed the amount of air in the vesel diminished. He also calculated in a separate experiment that an object burning in a small space uses air. Together these experiments allowed Mayow to make a connection between combustion and respiration, information that led later to the discovery of oxygen.