A neutron walks into a restaurant and orders a seven-course dinner. When she's finished eating, she asks the waiter how much she owes.

The waiter replies, "For you, No Charge!"

Marie-Anne Lavoisier

Antoine Lavoisier is often called the greatest chemist ever, for his amazing discoveries. But did you know that his wife was a great chemist too - the secret of his success? As we celebrate the International Year of Chemistry it seems apt that today on her birth anniversary, we know more about her.

Early Times

She was born Marie-Anne Pierette Paulze on 20th January, 1758. When she was thirteen, the Count d'Amerval made a proposal of marriage to her father, Jacques Paulze. The Count d'Amerval was an influential nobleman, but of bad character. He threatened Mr. Paulze with the loss of his job if he refused.

Jacques Paulze instead asked a young man who worked with him if he would marry his daughter instead. This young man, only 28 then, was already famous in France as a geologist and chemist. He was also quite rich and a nobleman himself. The young man, Antoine Lavoisier, accepted. And that's how Marie Anne became Madame Lavoisier.

Marie Anne and Antoine Lavoisier got a unique wedding gift from Jacques Paulze - a scientific laboratory full of equipments and chemicals!

Chemical Researches

Though being a desperate marriage, Marie Anne shared many interests with her husband. Unlike many women of her time, she was very interested in chemistry. She had a flair for languages which her famous husband did not have. This was very useful, for she was the first to read about scientific advances in Britain in Germany first! She would then translate articles into French or Latin, which Antoine Lavoisier could read.

The Lavoisiers' experiment on phlogiston is considered among the most beautiful in science. Do you know how it came about?

Madame was translating a book on the subject by Irish scientist Richard Kirwan. She found that he made a lot of errors, which she pointed out at every step. When she gave the translated book to Antoine Lavoisier, it had more of her notes than Kirwan's writings. And that was how he was convinced that phlogiston was false.

While Lavoisier was quite an academically minded person, Madame was more practical. She used to keep the lab records and ensured that the experiments were carried out according to procedure. Having learned drawing, she would make neat diagrams of the experiments. That made understanding the experiments much easier. It was also a lesson to other scientists on how to do experiments properly.

Later Years

Antoine Lavoisier was quite happy doing experiments, but didn't bother to share the results with people. Madame Lavoisier on the other hand was very keen. She organised all his results and made him write a proper book. She had it published in 1789. Known as the 'Elementary Treatise on Chemistry', it is considered among the best chemistry books ever written.

Sadly, Antoine Lavoisier was executed in 1784 in the French Revolution. His property was seized and his wife was thrown to the mercy of the streets. However, she fought all these difficulties to try and publish the remaining experiments. She finally succeeded, in a book called The Memoirs of Chemistry. By the time she died in 1836, she had restored her husband's reputation.

It's because of her that we often say that there is a woman behind every successful man!

Tags :     Famous Scientists     Oxygen     phlogiston     Antoine Lavoisier     Marie-Anne Lavoisier    


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