Emilie du Chatelet

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Emilie du Chatelet

During Emilie du Chatelet life, there have been many important historical events. In 1700, The Great Northern War was started between Russia and Sweden. In 1707, England and Scotland merged together, forming Great Britain. 1710, George Berkeley attacked Locke in his Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge. In 1713, the War of Spanish Succession ended. 1733, France declared war on the Holy Roman Empire. 1737, an earthquake killed 300,000 in India. 1748, Pompeii was excavated.

1737 - Published Dissertation sur la nature et la propagation du feu1738 - Contributed to Voltaire's Elements of Newton's philosophy.1740 - Published Institutions of Physics.1749 - Translated and commented on Newton's Principia Mathematica.

Emilie du Chatelet

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Dates of Contribution

Du Chatelet has not won any major awards during her life or after her death. However, she has been named after a main-belt minor planet, 12059 du Châtelet. Also, her name was used for an award, created by the Women's Caucus of ASECS to support research in progress by an independent or adjunct scholar on a feminist or Women's Studies subject.

Major Awards

Lived in France, but moved to different cities, such as Cirey, throughout her life.

Emilie du Chatelet was born on December 17, 1706 in Paris, France to a wealthy family. Her father was Louis Nicolas Le Tonnelier de Breteuil, a courtier to King Louis XIV. She was fascinated by math and science when she was young child. Later on, she dressed up as a man to enter a cafe that was a gathering place for scientists and mathematicians. When she was 19 years old, she married Marquis du Chatelet. They made an agreement where both of them live separate lives, including taking lovers, while still maintaining one household. Her most famous lover was Voltaire. Her second most famous lover was Marquis de Saint-Lambert, a poet. She was impregnated with Saint-Lambert's daughter, but plotted with Voltaire to deceive her husband that the child was his instead. On September 10, 1749, Du Chatelet died a few days after childbirth to puerperal fever.

Emilie Du Chatelet had not associated scientists physically, but in her published works. To begin with, she and Voltaire collaborated on a book, Elements of Newton's Philosophy, which explained Sir Isaac Newton's astronomy and optics. Also, she associated with Descartes and Gottfried Leibniz on her manuscript, Foundations of Physics. Another scientist she connected with was Willem ‘s Gravesande. Following the experiments done earlier by him, she corrected one of Newton's laws.

Scientists Associated With

Personal Facts

1738: Elements of Newton's PhilosophyDu Chatelet Collaborated with Voltaire on his Elements of Newton's Philosophy book. She argued against those who accepted a Cartesian account of attraction.

Historical Happenings

1737: Dissertation sur la nature et la propagation du feuEmilie du Chatelet explained thatlight was massless, an extraordinary, original, and correct idea, and it traveled fast. She measured the heating caused by different colors of light and discovered that there was invisible liht that could warm a thermometer. This is called infrared light, or infrared radiation.

1740: Institutions in PhysicsMadame du Chatelet's book sought to reconcile complex ideas from Sir Isaac Newton and Gottfried Leibniz. She showed that energy of a moving object is proportional not to its velocity, but to the sqaure of its velocity.

1749: Newton's Principia MathematicaIn the final year of her life, she translated and commented on Sir Isaac Newton's Principia Mathematica. In addition, she extrapolated from Newton's principles of mechanics to the notion of the conservation of energy.

Madame du Chatelet has lived in France her entire life.

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