Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Antoine Laurent Lavoisier...dedicated chemist

Another superb web site on a scientist--Antoine Lavoisier. Prime documents and web links are worth the study.

But science is always a collective enterprise, and the parts of others, of predecessors, associates, and opponents, must be explained; here we have the whole cast, French, British, and European, and not merely the protagonist, the ultimately tragic protagonist. Putting matters in perspective does not entail any belittling of Lavoisier's stature nor any subordination of the content of his science to the social and political context. Still, the overall story of the chemical revolution is familiar, and it is mainly in the account of Lavoisier's fu rther concerns that new ground can be explored. Beyond the mere facts of his having been a partner in the Tax Farm, an administrator of the Gunpowder Service, and a model farmer, little has been known of how Lavoisier actually spent his days. As a rule, chemistry occupied only the hours before breakfast and in the evenings. For the rest, his life was that of a financier, economist, and liberal administrator, a "grand commis d'état."


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