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Antoine Lavoisier

Antoine-Laurent de Lavoisier (1743-1794) is considered to be one of the father's of modern chemistry. He established the law of conservation of mass and invented the system of chemical nomenclature. <ref>Weisstein, Eric. (1996). Lavoisier, Antoine. Retrieved on 4 February, 2009 from,http://scienceworld.wolfram.com/biography/Lavoisier.html</ref> Antoine Lavoisier suggested many concepts regarding the chemical elements, explained the role of oxygen in combustion, helped develop the metric system, and invented Plaster of Paris.<ref> Jaffe, Bernard. New World of Chemistry. Retrieved on 4 February, 2009 from http://www.archive.org/stream/newworldofchemis030108mbp/newworldofchemis030108mbp_djvu.txt</ref>

Early Life

Antoine Lavoisier was born on August 26, 1743 in Paris, France.<ref> Encyclopedia Britannica. (2009). "Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier." Retrieved on 4 February, 2009 from http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/332700/Antoine-Laurent-Lavoisier.</ref> He was expected to follow his dad's footsteps and even got his license to practice law, but his real interest was in science. In 1765 he wrote and published a paper on how to improve the street lighting in Paris.<ref> Mahanti, Subodh. Antoine Laurent Lavoisier Founder of Modern Chemistry.Retrieved on 4 February, 2009 from http://www.vigyanprasar.gov.in/scientists/ALLavoisier.htm</ref> Because of this and some other things he wrote on agriculture, he was elected into the Royal Academy of Science at the age of 25. Later in 1768, he joined the Ferme générale, a private company that collected taxes for the government. Three years later he married 13-year-old Marie-Anne who illustrated his books and translated English for him.<ref> Hoffman, Roald. Mme. Lavoisie. Retrieved on 4 February, 2009 from http://www.americanscientist.org/issues/id.3317,y.0,no.,content.true,page.1,css.print/issue.aspx</ref>


After being introduced to the humanities and sciences at the prestigious College Mazarin, he studied law. Since the Paris law faculty made few demands on its students, Lavoisier was able to spend much of his three years as a law student attending public and private lectures on chemistry and physics and working under the tutelage of leading naturalists.<ref> Encyclopedia Britannica. (2009). "Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier." Retrieved on 6 February, 2009 from http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/332700/Antoine-Laurent-Lavoisier.</ref> While at Mazarin, Lavoisier studied under astronomer Abbé Nicolas Louis de Lacaille, geologist Jean-Étienne Guettard, botanist Bernard de Jussieu, and chemist Guillaume François Rouelle. In addition to his scientific schooling, Antoine Lavoisier studied law, earning a bachelor's degree and a license to practice in 1764, but chose to pursue science instead.<ref>Antoine Laurent Lavoisier - The Gifted Student. (2003). Retrieved on 6 February, 2009 from http://www.antoinelavoisier.com/antoine_lavoiser-biography_001.htm</ref>


In 1775 Lavoisier was selected for the Royal Gunpowder Commission and moved to the Arsenal in Paris. <ref>Pioneers and Engineers in Thermodynamics. Retrieved on 4 February, 2009 from http://www.wiley.com/college/schmidt/047114343X/thermonet/history/historybios.html</ref> There he made a laboratory where young chemists from all over Europe came to learn and experiment. He was successful in making more efficient gunpowder by improving the way the powder was granulated.

One of Lavoisier's many contributions to chemistry was the Law of Conservation of Mass. <ref>Biography Base. Antoine Laurent Lavoisier Biography. Retrieved on 4 February, 2009 from http://www.biographybase.com/biography/Lavoisier_Antoine_Laurent.html</ref> He argued that the mass of the reactants had to equal the mass of the products. Another discovery was the role oxygen played in combustion, a type of chemical reaction. <ref>Larson, Philip. Antoine Laurent Lavoisier. Retrieved on 5 February, 2009 from http://cti.itc.virginia.edu/~meg3c/classes/tcc313/200Rprojs/lavoisier2/home.html</ref> Giving new names to substances, many of which are still used today, was an important way of forwarding the chemical revolution because these words expresses all the theories behind them. For example, "oxygen", from the Greek roots meaning "acid-former" he expressed his theory that oxygen was an acidifying principle. To spread his ideas, in 1789 he published a textbook, Elements of Chemistry, and began making a journal which had research reports about all his works.

Later Life

Being politically active, he was involved in events leading to the French Revolution. In its early years he made plans and reports talking about reforms, including the establishment of the metric system of weights and measures to help the monetary system in France.<ref>Naughtin, Pat. (2008). A chronological history of the modern metric system. Retrieved on 5 February, 2009 from http://www.metricationmatters.com/docs/MetricationTimeline.pdf</ref> And even though all the contributions he made to science and to France, because he was a tax collector, he was tried, convicted, and beheaded on May 8th, 1794.<ref>History Orb. (2000). Today in History for Year 1794. Retrieved on 5 February, 2009 from http://www.historyorb.com/date/1794</ref>Lavoisier's importance to science was defined when Joseph Louis Lagrange, an Italian mathematician, said after his death, "It took them only an instant to cut off his head, but France may not produce another like it in a century."

Further Reading


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