Antoine Lavoisier

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Scientific Biographies
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Antoine Lavoisier

Fun Fact:Lavoisier told his college that he would try to blink as much as possible after being beheaded, as his final experiment. Sources say he blinked for about 30 seconds

Antoine Lavoisier

Antoine Lavoisier was born on August 26, 1743 in Paris, France. His father, Jean-Antoine Lavoisier, was a lawyer in the Paris Parliament. His mother, Émilie Punctis, was wealthy because of a butchery business. She left 5 year old Antoine a large sum of money when she passed away. Antoine was educated at a college of the University of Paris, in between ages 11 and 18. He enrolled in the college’s law school at 18, despite his love for science. He was aiming to pursue the same career as his father.

Lavoisier built on the work already done by the English scientists Henry Cavendish and Joseph Priestley. He was the first person to isolate and name oxygen, the most common element on Earth. He also discovered that air contains 21 percent oxygen and 78 percent nitrogen (plus 1 per cent of other gases). He later gave the element hydrogen its name.

He also discovered that the inflammable air of hydrogen (Greek for water-former), combined with oxygen to produce a dew, as Priestley had reported, which appeared to be water.

Research and Discovery

Lavoisier's Impact OnScienceAntoine Lavoisier revolutionized chemistry. He named the elements carbon, hydrogen and oxygen; discovered oxygen’s role in combustion and respiration; found out that water is a compound of hydrogen and oxygen; discovered that sulfur is an element, and helped continue the transformation of chemistry into a quantitative one.

Lavoisier' Book

Law of ConservationThe first breakthrough in the study of chemical reactions was from the work of the French chemist Antoine Lavoisier between 1772 and 1794. Lavoisier found that mass is conserved in a chemical reaction. The total mass of the products of a chemical reaction is always the same as the total mass of the starting materials consumed in the reaction. His results led to one of the fundamental laws of chemistry: the law of conservation of matter, which states that matter is conserved in a chemical reaction.

Lavoisier's Life and Education

Lavoisier is often call the ''father of chemistry''. Before him, chemistry was barely thought of as a science.

Lavoisier realized that diamond and charcoal are the same element in different forms.He gave this element the name carbon.

Lavoisier correctly identified sulfur as an element. He had carried out experiments involving this substance. He observed it could not be broken down into any simpler substances.

Working with Pierre-Simon Laplace, Lavoisier burned hydrogen with oxygen and found that water was produced, establishing that water is not an element. It is actually a product made from the elementshydrogen and oxygen. This result shocked many people; at that time ‘everyone knew’ that water was itself one of the ‘indivisible’ elements.


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