Joseph Louis Gay-Lussac


Joseph Louis Gay-Lussac : biography

06 December 1778 – 09 May 1850

The tension of geomagnetic was measured with the help of ordinary for that time method – by measurement of swing period of magnetic hand which deflected from equilibrium position.

Eudiometer experiments (1805)

In 1805 Gay-Lussac with a famous scientist and traveler Humboldt carried out tests in the field of eudiometer science. Their primary aim in these experiments was elucidation of air composition’s measurements accuracy with the help of Volt’s eudiometer. The results of these experiments were several discoveries and hypothesis in physics and geography. Particularly Gay-Lussac discovered that oxygen and hydrogen formed water when they combined in proportion of ten parts of oxygen and two hundred parts of hydrogen.

Travelling around Europe (1805-1806)

On the 12 of March in 1895 Gay-Lussac got a year vacation with the help of Bertollet and with Humboldt he went to travel around Italy and Germany. The main purpose of this journey was to research air combination and geomagnetic field in different latitudes. Gay-Lussac visited Lyons, Chambery, Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne, Saint-Michel, Montseny and other cities. This period of his activity is known for his idea about the existence of ascending air flows, with the help of them he managed to explain atmospheric phenomena which were mysterious before. At the beginning of July in 1805 Gay-Lussac visited Genoa and on the 5th of July he arrived in Rome where in the chemical laboratory he discovered the presence of hydrofluoric and phosphoric acids in fish bones and he also conducted the analysis of the stone from Tolfa.

On the 15th of July in 1805 Gay-Lussac and Humboldt with a famous geologist Leopold Buch went to Naples where they watched eruption of Vesuvius volcano and the following after it strong earthquake. Gay-Lussac walked up on Vesuvius for six times, he investigated tracks of former volcano eruptions and was searching for remains of sea mollusks’ shells which saved in deposits on mountains’ slopes. When Gay-Lussac travelled by sea near Naples he ascertained that content of oxygen in the air which is dissolved in sea water was 30% with comparison of 21% in atmospheric air.

On the 17th of September in 1805 Gay-Lussac went to Florence where he investigated mineral waters. According to conceptions of that time healing characteristics of mineral water were explained by heightened content of oxygen in dissolved water – 40%. Gay-Lussac disproved this statement and ascertained that content of oxygen in the air in mineral water was 30% as in any water from other natural sources.

On the 28th of September Gay-Lussac arrived in Bologna where he met a famous aeronaut duke Zambekary. During the conversation he warned the duke who was going to increase carrying capacity of his balloon by warming hydrogen with the help of gas burner. Zambekari, who earlier had lost six fingers because of the fire on his balloon didn’t listen to the warnings and some time later he died in hydrogen’s explosion.

When Gay-Lussac visited the Bologna University he found out that his former glory waned and some professor positions were occupied by charlatans.

On the 1st of October Gay-Lussac arrived in Milan where he met Alessandro Volta, on the 14-15th of October he crossed the Gotthard pass, on the 15th of October he visited Lucerne, on the 4th of November – Gottingen, on the 16th of November he went to Berlin where he spent winter in Humboldt’s house. In spring of 1806 Gay-Lussac got news about Brisson’s death and went to Paris in order to occupy his position as a professor in the Polytechnic school.

Investigations of gases (1806)

In 1806 Gay-Lussac started to investigate gases’ elasticity in dependence with temperature and also processes of vaporization. Dalton in England made similar research but Gay-Lussac didn’t know about his experiments. Dalton discovered with the help of rather rough equipment that with the change of temperature from 0 to 100 volume of air changed on 0,302 in comparison with primary volume, but Volta several years before got result 0,38. In 1807 Gay-Lussac made an exact experiment and got a value of 0,375 which was used by European physicians for a long time. According to present conceptions this value corresponds to temperature of absolute zero.