Jan Ingenhousz or Ingen-Housz FRS (December 8, 1730 – September 7, 1799) was a Dutch physiologist, biologist and chemist. He is best known for showing that light is essential to photosynthesis and thus having discovered photosynthesis. He also discovered that plants, like animals, have cellular respiration. In his lifetime he was best known for successfully inoculating the members of the Habsburg family in Vienna against smallpox in 1768 and subsequently being the private counsellor and personal physician to the Austrian Empress Maria Theresa.
From the age of 16, Ingenhousz studied medicine at the University of Leuven, where he obtained his MD in 1753. He studied two more years at the University of Leiden, where he attended lectures by, among others, Pieter van Musschenbroek, which lead Ingenhousz to have a lifelong interest in electricity. In 1755 he returned home to Breda, where he started a general medical practice.
After the death of his father in July 1764, Ingenhousz intended to travel through Europe for study, starting in England where he wanted to learn the latest techniques in inoculation against smallpox. Via John Pringle, who had been a family friend since the 1740s, he quickly made many valuable contacts in London, and in due time became a master inoculator. In 1767, he inoculated 700 village people in a successful effort to combat an epidemic in Hertfordshire. In 1768, Empress Maria Theresa read a letter by Pringle on the success in the fight against smallpox in England, whereas in the Austrian empire the medical establishment vehemently opposed inoculations. She decided to have her own family inoculated first (a cousin had already died), and requested help via the English royal house.
On Pringle's recommendation, Ingenhousz was selected and requested to travel to Austria. He had planned to inoculate the Royal Family by pricking them with a needle and thread that were coated with smallpox germs taken from the pus of a smallpox-infected person. The idea of the inoculation was that by giving a few germs to a healthy body the body would develop immunisation from smallpox. The inoculation was a success and he became Maria Theresia's court physician. He settled in Vienna, where in 1775 he married Agatha Maria Jacquin.
In the 1770s Ingenhousz became interested in gaseous exchanges of plants prior to reading about the work of scientist Joseph Priestley (1733–1804),who found out that plants make and absorb gases. In 1779, Ingenhousz discovered that, in the presence of light, plants give off bubbles from their green parts while, in the shade, the bubbles eventually stop. He identified the gas as oxygen. He also discovered that, in the dark, plants give off carbon dioxide. He realized as well that the amount of oxygen given off in the light is more than the amount of carbon dioxide given off in the dark. This demonstrated that some of the mass of plants comes from the air, and not only the soil.
In addition to his work in the Netherlands and Vienna, Ingenhousz spent time in France, England, Scotland, and Switzerland, among other places. He carried out research in electricity, heat conduction, and chemistry, and was close and frequently corresponded with both Benjamin Franklin and Henry Cavendish. In 1785, he described the irregular movement of coal dust on the surface of alcohol and therefore has a claim as discoverer of what came to be known as Brownian motion. Ingenhousz was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of London in 1779. In 1799, Ingenhousz died in, and was buried at Calne, England. His wife died the following year.
Photosynthesis is a process used by plants and other organisms to convert light energy, normally from the Sun, into chemical energy that can be later released to fuel the organisms' activities. This chemical energy is stored in carbohydrate molecules, such as sugars, which are synthesized from carbon dioxide and water – hence the name photosynthesis, from the Greek phōs, "light", and synthesis, "putting together". In most cases, oxygen is also released as a waste product. Most plants, most algae, and cyanobacteria perform photosynthesis, and such organisms are called photoautotrophs. Photosynthesis maintains atmospheric oxygen levels and supplies all of the organic compounds and most of the energy necessary for life on Earth.
Cellular respiration is the set of metabolic reactions and processes that take place in the cells of organisms to convert biochemical energy from nutrients into adenosine triphosphate (ATP), and then release waste products. The reactions involved in respiration are catabolic reactions, which break large molecules into smaller ones, releasing energy in the process as weak so-called "high-energy" bonds are replaced by stronger bonds in the products. Respiration is one of the key ways a cell gains useful energy to fuel cellular activity. Cellular respiration is considered an exothermic redox reaction which releases heat. The overall reaction occurs in a series of biochemical steps, most of which are redox reactions themselves. Although, technically, cellular respiration is a combustion reaction, it clearly does not resemble one when it occurs in a living cell due to slow release of energy from the series of reactions. ">
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