(June 14, 1736 – August 23, 1806)
Charles-Augustin de Coulomb worked in various civil engineering capacities before settling for experimental physics. After serving in Martinique (West Indies) for eight years, he returned to France and began foraging seriously into research. He explored mechanics before moving onto electricity. Treatises detailing his findings were sent to the Paris Academy of Sciences. Most notable of these are: The Statistical Problems Applied to Architecture, and The Theory of Simple Machines which won him the academy’s prestigious grand prix. His extensive studies of torsion balance led to the publication of another acclaimed treatise, titled: The Elasticity of Wires under Twisting Stress. Having benefitted from the math stalwarts who tutored him as a youth, his application of calculus to complex scientific problems impressed members of the academy. Coulomb would spend the next five years studying electricity, magnetism; and publishing the seven treatises which culminated in the formulation of his famous law: termed the Coulomb’s Inverse-Square Law. Among other things, this law was instrumental to the development of the Theory of Electromagnetism. It not only relates to Newton’s (inverse-square) Law of Universal Gravitation, but could be used to derive Gauss’ Flux Theorem (and vice-versa). In addition to his numerous honors, the S.I. unit of electric charge was designated as the coulomb in 1908. He is as well the eponym of both the Coulomb lunar crater and the 530-kilometer-wide Coulomb-Sarton pre-Nectarian lunar basin. And in Paris, the name Charles-Augustin de Coulomb is among those of the 72 illustrious French achievers emblazoned on the Eiffel Tower.