Baron Louis Bernard Guyton de Morveau


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(1737–1816) French chemist

Born at Dijon in France, Guyton began his career as a lawyer; as a member of the Burgundy parliament (1755–82), however, he met the great Georges Buffon who encouraged his interest in science. In 1782 he gave up law to devote himself to science and he collaborated with Antoine Lavoisier. During the revolutionary period he reentered politics. He was a founder of and teacher at the Ecole Polytechnique (1795–1805) and in 1800 became master of the mint until his retirement in 1814.

In the period 1776–77 Guyton published his three-volume Eléments de chimie théorique et pratique (Rudiments of Theoretical and Practical Chemistry), which was a major attempt to quantify chemical affinities. Guyton was a passionate Newtonian and tried to apply Newtonian laws to chemistry. He tried to do this by floating disks of various metals on mercury and measuring the force necessary to remove them. Thus he obtained figures such as gold needs a force of 446 grains to remove it, lead 397, zinc 204, iron 115, and cobalt 8. He attempted to correlate his figures with the chemical affinities of the elements.

Subjects: Science and Mathematics.

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