(August 26, 1743 – May 8, 1794)

Although a qualified lawyer, Antoine Lavoisier never practiced law. He devoted his time to chemistry, botany and mathematics. His math tutor (named Nicolas Louis de LaCaille) was a priest and an astronomy-enthusiast who imbued him with a lifelong interest in meteorology. But the magic of chemistry appealed to him more. He loved showing-off his incandescent and colorful experiments to friends. But since he lacked deep knowledge of chemistry, he depended on contemporaries, such as Joseph Priestley and Henry Cavendish, for ideas. His ability to learn fast and work diligently ensured that his collaborations brought him fame. Unlike Priestley and Cavendish, he was a well-to-do aristocrat who could finance expensive experiments repeatedly. And by so doing, he gained better insights, which enabled him to turn sketchy ideas into theories. A good example was his collaborative work with Priestley on oxygen. Carl Scheele first isolated oxygen and informed Priestley. Priestley worked on it and informed Lavoisier. And with his greater resources, Lavoisier worked repeatedly on the newly discovered gas, thereby understanding it better than Scheele and Priestley. Similar thing happened with hydrogen, after Cavendish isolated it. Antoine Lavoisier was an avid researcher who contributed to chemical nomenclature, stoichiometry, and the metric system.


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