What is “laughing gas”? Does it really make you laugh?
Nitrous oxide, N2O, is a colorless, almost odorless gas, that was first discovered in 1793 by the English scientist and clergyman Joseph Priestley (who was also famous for being the first to isolate other important gases such as oxygen, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, ammonia, and sulfur dioxide). Priestley made N2O by heating ammonium nitrate in the presence of iron filings, and then passing the gas that came off (NO) through water to remove toxic by-products Following Priestley’s discovery, Humphrey Davy of the Pneumatic Institute in Bristol, England, experimented with the physiological properties of the gas, such as its effects upon respiration. He even administered the gas to visitors to the institute, and after watching the amusing effects on people who inhaled it, coined the term ‘laughing gas’!