(August 26, 1743 – May 8, 1794)
Antoine Lavoisier was the greatest experimental chemist preceding Michael Faraday. He was incredibly prolific. Although a qualified lawyer, he seldom practised law. He devoted his attention to chemistry, botany, logic, and mathematics. His maths tutor, Nicolas-Louis de LaCaille, was an abbot and astronomy enthusiast who imbued him with lifelong interest in meteorology. But the magic of chemistry enraptured him. He enjoyed showing off vibrant and incandescent experiments to colleagues and acquaintances. But since he lacked broad knowledge of chemistry, he depended on contemporaries such as Joseph Priestley and Henry Cavendish, for ideas. He also communicated with other French professionals: using their clues to polish the scant knowledge he gained from private studies. His ability to work apace amidst correspondences made his cooperations even more rewarding. Unlike Priestley and Cavendish, he was wealthy aristocrat who could finance expensive experiments repeatedly. And by so doing, he gained better insights, which enabled him to turn sketchy ideas into substantiated theories. A good example was his collaborative work with Priestley on oxygen. Carl Scheele isolated the gas and informed Priestley. Priestley examined it and informed Lavoisier. And with his greater resources, Lavoisier experimented repeatedly on the newly discovered gas, thereby understanding its physical and chemical properties better than Scheele and Priestley did. Similar thing happened after Cavendish isolated hydrogen. From enthusiast, Antoine-Laurent de Lavoisier quickly became an expert who contributed to chemical nomenclature, stoichiometry, and metric system. The 70-kilometer-wide Lavoisier lunar crater (bestriding Bunsen, Beigh and von Braun) is named after him.