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Karol Olszewski and Zygmunt Wróblewski: condensation of oxygen and nitrogen

Condensation of oxygen and nitrogen

The condensation of air (followed by oxygen, nitrogen and carbon monoxide) was achieved by Zygmunt Wróblewski and Karol Olszewski, two professors of physics and chemistry from the Jagiellonian University. In addition, they determined critical constant values for the condensed gases.

Karol Olszewski (1846 - 1915) studied at the Faculties of Mathematics and Physics, and of Chemistry and Biology at the Jagiellonian University. He carried out his first experiments using a personally improved compressor, condensing and compressing carbon anhydride (dioxide). He defended his doctoral dissertation at Heidelberg, after which he returned to his parent university, where he obtained the title of extraordinary professor.

Zygmunt Wróblewski (1845 - 1888) studied at the Kiev University. Next, after a six-year exile for participating in the January Uprising (1863), he studied in Berlin and Heidelberg. He defended his doctoral dissertation at the Munich University in 1876 and became an assistant professor of the Strasburg University. He was introduced to the issue of gas condensation in Paris by professor Caillet at the École Normale Superieure. When he was offered the chair of the Faculty of Physics at the Jagiellonian University, he came to Krakow, where he began to study gases and soon began working with Karol Olszewski. On March 29, 1883 they used a new method of condensing oxygen, and on April 13 of the same year - nitrogen.

In 1888, while working on the physical properties of hydrogen, Zygmunt Wróblewski was heavily burned and died soon afterwards at a Krakow hospital. Karol Olszewski continued the experiments using an improved Picket cascade apparatus, and utilizing carbon dioxide, boiling ethylene in vacuum, as well as boiling nitrogen and boiling air as cooling agents. The Olszewski method consisted of consecutive condensation of specific gases. In 1895 he condensed and solidified argon. During the same year, he gave a lecture on the results of his research at a session of the Royal Society in London.

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