Vladimir Pecha‘s Today’s Memory
Joseph Louis Gay-Lussac’s birthday
Originally shared by Vladimir Pecha
Today is the birthday of physicist and chemist Joseph-Louis Gay-Lussac, who was born in Saint-Leonard-de-Noblat, France, in 1778.
He attended the newly established École Polytechnique in Paris and then became an assistant to chemist Claude-Louis Berthollet. In 1802 Gay-Lussac demonstrated that given constant pressure, the volume of a gas is directly proportional to its temperature. Today that relationship is called Charles’s Law, after the French chemist Jacques Charles, but Gay-Lussac did far more than Charles in demonstrating the connection.
Gay-Lussac proposed another gas law that is named after him in 1808. He suggested that gases combine in simple volume ratios; for example, he showed that water vapor is composed of two parts hydrogen to one part oxygen. Gay-Lussac also co-discovered the element boron and presented a thorough analysis of the newly identified element iodine, which was discovered by Gay-Lussac’s rival Humphry Davy. Gay-Lussac’s achievements go beyond the lab. In the early 1800s he made several daring hydrogen balloon flights to study the composition and magnetic properties of Earth’s atmosphere. In one solo voyage he ascended more than 7 km.