Who is Antoine-Laurent de Lavoisier?December 13, 2020
He was a French chemist who was born in Paris on 6 August 1743 and died on 8 May 1794 in Paris.
He is a person who has seen two revolutions in his life. One of the revolutions is the transformation of studies carried out under the name of “alchemy” for centuries into the science of chemistry in today’s sense. Lavoisier is the hero of this revolution. The second revolution is known as the “1789 French revolution”. Lavoisier is the victim of the terror brought on by this revolution.
Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier was born into a wealthy Parisian family. Losing her mother when she was younger, Lavoisier grows up with her father’s close attention and care; At first, perhaps due to his influence, he tends to be a lawyer. However, the experimental science curiosity that awakens in the meantime turns into a passion soon. When he is just twenty-one, he takes first place in the project competition for lighting the streets of Paris, and is awarded a gold medal by the French Academy of Sciences. When he reaches the age of 25, he is selected as a member of the Academy, especially considering his work in the field of chemistry.
In the meantime, the young scientist assigned to a special commission of the government organizes many applied scientific studies ranging from activities such as the establishment of the metric system, the preparation of the geological map of France, to increasing the productivity in agriculture. In addition, the defense need of his country, which was under some kind of blockade at that time, assumes the responsibility of the production of gunpowder. The young scientist cannot be satisfied with this; He gets involved in a job that would lead to his death in the future, fixing the country’s corrupt tax system. But despite all his efforts, Lavoisier did not break with the science that really concerns him; He does not fail to withdraw to his private laboratory and continue his experiments at every opportunity.
What is the Flogiston Theorem?
What is the Law of Conservation of Mass?
One feature that made Lavoisier memorable was its extraordinary sensitivity in measuring the chemical changes of objects. This feature enables him to put forward a very important scientific principle known as the “Law of Conservation of Mass.” Lavoisier expressed this principle, which is sometimes referred to by his own name:
“We can argue as an unquestionable axiom that nothing is created out of nothing in all the workings of nature, that matter remains the same in quantity in all experimental transformations, and that elements preserve their quantitative and qualitative properties in all their compositions, and laid the foundation of modern chemistry. »
While conducting his experiments on breathing in 1794, Lavoisier is summoned before the Revolutionary Court. Two accusations were made:
Its relation to the aristocracy that has been denigrated as anti-revolutionary;
Corruption in tax collection (Lavoisier spent a small portion of the taxes he collected on laboratory experiments).
His friends rushed to court to save Lavoisier, but even as a witness, there was no need to rest. To the distinguished scholars of the day, who applied with the petition “When Citizen Lavoisier is a great scholar who gives honor to France with his work, we all unite, we wish his forgiveness”, the answer given by the judge is certain and striking: “The Republic does not need scholars!” Galileo spent the last ten years of his life under the detention of the Inquisition. Lavoisier’s ending is even more pathetic: at the age of 51, his head is blown off with a guillotine in the name of “revolution.” Lavoisier is reading a book while he waits for his neck shot. When the executioner came to take him to the guillotine, Lavoisier put a bookmark in the book he was reading so as not to forget where he was staying.
Source: Atatürk University Department of Sociology 1st Year “Introduction to Philosophy” and 3rd Year “History of Contemporary Philosophy” Lecture Notes (Ömer YILDIRIM); Philosophy Dictionary, Science and Art Publications