(June 14, 1736 – August 23, 1806)

Charles-Augustin de Coulomb worked in various civil engineering capacities before embracing experimental physics. After serving in Martinique (West Indies) for 8 years, he returned to France and began foraging 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 invention of torsion balance in 1777 led to the publication of another acclaimed monograph: The Elasticity of Wires under Twisting Stress. Having benefitted from a faculty of tutors who taught him maths (as a youth) his application of calculus to complex problems impressed the academy’s members. Coulomb would spend 5 years studying electricity, electrostatics, and magnetism. Afterwards, he published the 7 treatises which culminated in the formulation of his famous law: termed the Coulomb’s Inverse-Square Law in 1785. His theoretical and practical works were profound. Among others, 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 coulomb being the S.I. unit of electric charge, Charles-Augustin de Coulomb is as well, the eponym of 30826 Coulomb asteroid, the 89-kilometer-wide Coulomb lunar crater, the 530-kilometer-wide Coulomb-Sarton pre-Nectarian lunar basin, the Coulomb wave function and the Coulomb logarithm. He is also among the 72 French achievers whose names are inscribed on the Eiffel Tower.


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  3. According to the updated S.I. units which began on 20/5/2019, the elementary charge which equals the charge of the proton is 1.60217663 × 10 ‾ ¹⁹ coulombs.

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