Joseph Louis Gay-Lussac (December 6, 1778 – May 10, 1850) was a French chemist and physicist. He is known mostly for two laws related to gases.
Gay-Lussac was born at Saint-Léonard-de-Noblat, in the department of Haute-Vienne. He received his early education at home and in 1794 was sent to Paris to prepare for the École Polytechnique after his father was arrested, into which he was admitted at the end of 1797. Three years later he transferred to the École des Ponts et Chaussées, and shortly afterwards was assigned to C. L. Berthollet as his assistant. In 1802 he was appointed demonstrator to A. F. Fourcroy at the École Polytechnique, where subsequently (1809) he became professor of chemistry. From 1808 to 1832 he was professor of physics at the Sorbonne, a post which he only resigned for the chair of chemistry at the Jardin des Plantes. In 1831 he was elected to represent Haute-Vienne in the chamber of deputies, and in 1839 he entered the chamber of peers.
In 1809 Gay-Lussac married to Geneviève-Marie-Joseph Rojot. He had met her first when she worked as a linen draper's shop assistant and was studying a chemistry textbook under the counter. He was father of five children, of whom the eldest (Jules) became assistant to Justus Liebig in Giessen. Some publications by Jules are mistaken as his father's today since they share the same first initial (J. Gay-Lussac). A branch of his descendance live in Brazil, South America (de Salusse Lussac/Lussac Do Coutto/Do Coutto Monni) and in Ontario, Canada.
In 1802, Gay-Lussac first formulated the law that a gas expands linearly with a fixed pressure and rising temperature (usually better known as Charles's Law).
In 1804 he made a hot-air balloon ascent with Jean-Baptiste Biot to a height of 6.4 kilometres in an early investigation of the Earth's atmosphere. He wanted to collect sample of the air at different heights to record differences in temperature and moisture.
In 1805, together with his friend and scientific collaborator Alexander von Humboldt, he discovered that the basic composition of the atmosphere does not change with decreasing pressure (increasing altitude).
In 1808, he was the co-discoverer of boron.
In Paris, a street and a hotel near the Sorbonne are named after him as are a square and a street in his birthplace, St Leonard de Noblat. His grave is at the famous cemetery Père Lachaise in Paris.
|Notable teachers||Notable students|
|C. L. Berthollet (1748-1822), Paris |
Antoine François, comte de Fourcroy (1755-1809), Paris
|Jean-Jacques Colin (1784-1865), répétiteur in 1809-1817 |
Pierre Robiquet (1780-1840), répétiteur in 1813-1818