Gay-Lussac: Scientist and Bourgeois

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Cambridge University Press, Feb 12, 2004 - Science - 352 pages
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Gay-Lussac is best known for his chemical work but also made important contributions to other physical sciences and technology. This is the first work to examine critically both the scientific work and the man behind it. Joseph Louis Gay-Lussac (1778-1850) lived through three revolutions in France and his life reflected the social transformations taking place around him. His education and early progress in science depended on the Revolution of 1789 and on the patronage of the chemist Berthollet, a close associate of Napoleon Bonaparte. Gay-Lussac may be seen as the first 'professional' scientist and indeed, throughout the book, Professor Crosland emphasises that he knew how to use his science to solve practical problems and was able to profit considerably from this application.
 

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Contents

A young provincial in Paris
1
Early education
4
The Ecole Polytechnique
9
The Ecole des Fonts el Chaussees
17
The apprentice of Arcueil
21
The thermal expansion of gases as studied by GayLussac and Dalton
25
Balloon ascents
28
Election to the Institute
31
Fermentation
140
Professor Academician and editor
143
The Faculty of Science
144
The Ecole Polytechnique
151
The Museum dHistoire Naturelle
156
The Academician
159
The Annales de chimie et de physique
166
GayLussac under attack
175

The Arcueil group
32
On the staff of the Ecole Poly technique and a European tour
34
Marriage
40
Personal influences and the search for laws
43
Lavoisiers influence
44
Berthollets influence
47
Laplaces programme and influence
49
The influence of the Arcueil circle on the formulation of the law of combining volumes of gases
53
The search for laws
54
The law of combining volumes of gases
59
Scientific laws
62
Tables and graphs
63
Analogical argument and classification
67
Scientific method
68
Collaboration and rivalry
71
Rivalry with Davy
73
The discovery of iodine
80
Differences of style and character
87
The volumetric approach
92
Reacting volumes and chemical composition
100
Vapour densities
104
Organic chemistry and the practical determination of vapour densities
107
The influence of the volumetric approach
109
Scientific research
115
Work in physics
117
The physical chemist
128
Prussic acid and cyanogen
129
The problem of acidity
131
Isomerism
134
Atomic weights and equivalents
136
A scientist in the service of government and industry
178
The Gunpowder Service
181
The Mint
188
Alcoholometry
190
Stearic candles
193
The SaintGobain Company
195
The GayLussac tower
199
A new technique and the dissemination of technical information
205
Apparatus
211
Instructions
214
Estimation of saltpetre
216
Estimation of bleaching powder
218
Estimation of silver
219
Lightning conductors
222
Scientist and bourgeois in the political arena
226
Salaries and sympathies
228
The political arena
234
The Chamber of Deputies
236
Protectionism
239
Applied science and industry
242
The legacy
248
Students and research associates
249
The family
253
Conclusion
255
select correspondence
263
Notes
280
Select bibliography
312
Name Index
325
Subject Index
330
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