Antoine Laurent Lavoisier

Antoine Laurent Lavoisier was born in Paris on August 26, 1743. He was the son of a wealthy lawyer and was therefore well educated. His brilliance was shown early on, when, at the age of 22, he made a lighting project for the streets of Paris and won his first gold medal at the Royal Academy of Sciences in France. Only at the age of 25 was he elected a member of this prestigious Academy. He married 26-year-old Marie-Anne. However, she became not only his wife but also his assistant. It was she who translated scientific and philosophical works for Lavoisier's research.

Lavoisier is often called the "father of Modern Chemistry". This is due to the way of working in detail that Lavoisier adopted and which served as a model for the next scientists. He was very careful, writing down his observations in detail, planning his experiments very well. In addition to the qualitative aspect, he also related precisely the quantitative aspect of the experiments, as he made good use of scales, making weighing and careful measurements.

Besides, Lavoisier observed the total amount of matter that was before and after the combustion reactions and he showed that the total mass of the reactants was exactly equal to the total mass of the products when the reaction was carried out in a closed container. With that, he created his most famous law, the Law of Conservation of masses or Law of Conservation of Matter, also called Lavoisier's Law. Currently, this law is best known for the following statement:

In nature, nothing is created, nothing is lost; everything changes."

In that principle, Lavoisier demonstrated that the whole essence of chemistry is transformation. He also showed that these transformations follow very precise and defined quantitative principles. Another feat of Lavoisier was to launch, in 1789, the Elementary Chemistry Treaty, which did not use the obscure language of alchemy, but rather a modern nomenclature for 33 elements *, which overturned Aristotle's theory, which lasted for more than 2000 years. , that everything would consist of only 4 elements, water, earth, fire and air.

Antoine Lavoisier also showed that water molecules were made up of two parts of hydrogen and one part of oxygen. Another discovery of his was that animal metabolism was a type of internal combustion, in which the carbon and hydrogen absorbed from food reacted with oxygen to produce CO2 and water.

Unfortunately, Lavoisier died with only 51 years old, and tragically, being guillotined. He had invested Ferme Générale, a private company that collected taxes from the people. Only a portion of these taxes went to the king, the rest being divided among the shareholders, which included Lavoisier. He did this to fund his research. However, when the French Revolution started, the political order of feudalism and the monarchy that was in force was overthrown.

As a consequence, the members of Ferme Générale were accused of embezzlement and enemies of the people. Despite appeals from countless French scientists, Lavoisier was arrested and later killed in a guillotine on May 8, 1794. As the French mathematician Joseph-Louis Lagrange said when he learned of his death: "It won't be enough for a century to produce ahead like the one that fell in a second." Lavoisier's properties were confiscated and Marie-Anne was arrested. When she was released, with notes on the work of her late husband, she published the work Memories of Chemistry, in 1805.


Last modified: Wednesday, 3 Jun 2020, 02:45