(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 8 years, he returned to France and began foraging meticulously 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 treatise, titled: 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 scientific problems impressed the academy’s members. Coulomb would spend the next 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 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 coulomb being the S.I. unit of electric charge, Charles-Augustin de Coulomb is among the 72 great French achievers whose names are emblazoned on the Eiffel Tower. He is also the eponym of the 30826 Coulomb asteroid, the 89-kilometer-wide Coulomb lunar crater, and the 530-kilometer-wide Coulomb-Sarton pre-Nectarian lunar basin.