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Charles Augustin De Coulomb is the physicist associated with the famous Coulomb’s Law. This biography states the profile, childhood, life and timeline of this legendary scientist.

Charles Augustin De Coulomb

Charles Augustin De Coulomb

Also Listed In: Physicists

Nationality: French    Famous French Men

Born on: 14 June 1736 AD    14th June Birthdays

Zodiac Sign: Gemini    Gemini Men

Born in: Angoulême, France

Died on: 23 August 1806 AD

place of death: Paris, France

father: Henry Coulomb

mother: Catherine Bajet

Married: No

education: Ecole du Génie at Mézières

discoveries / inventions: Coulombs Law


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Coulomb was an astounding physicist, engineer and mathematician, who served his nation in many areas and brought about the culture of experimental science in France. His pioneering work in the field of electricity and magnetism, established him as one of the greatest minds of his time, thus many historians believe that what William Gilbert did for England, Coulomb did for France. The 'Coulomb's Law', formulated by him, defines the electrostatic force of attraction and repulsion. His tireless research and experimentation revolutionized several professional fields like civil engineering and natural sciences. The generalised sliding wedge theory of soil mechanics developed by him is still relevant in basic engineering practice. He is also credited with providing the know-how, which lead to the creation of the stronger foundations for highways. Besides theoretical works, Coulomb also created several innovative instruments, which include torsion balance and magnetometer. The first was used to measure small forces, whereas the latter was a device that could measure the strength and direction of magnetic fields. Despite facing ill health, he continued his research work throughout his life and served responsibly, on various governmental posts till the day of his passing.

Childhood & Early Life
  • Charles Augustin Coulomb was born in a wealthy family settled in Angoulême. His father, named Henry Coulomb belonged to a well established family in the legal profession; his mother, Catherine Bajet, also came from a wealthy family. 
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  • Early in his life, he moved to Paris, along with his family, where he studied mathematics at Collège des Quatre-Nations and completed his education from Ecole du Génie at Mézières in 1761. 
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    Career
  • Coulomb began his career as an engineer with the post of ‘Lieutenant’ in the Corps du Génie. During this time he worked in the fields of structural design, soil mechanics and so on. 
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  • He worked at various difficult locations throughout the territories that came under France for next 20 years. 
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  • While he was working in Martinique, the territory was run over by the English in 1762; however, it was later returned to France as per the conditions stipulated in the 1763, Treaty of Paris. 
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  • He was commissioned to build new Fort Bourbon; its work was completed by June 1772. The practical engineering skills that he acquired during his army construction projects proved quite useful in his later theoretical endeavors in mechanics. 
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  • After his return to France, he began to explore the realm of applied mechanics and in 1773, presented his first memoir to the Académie des Sciences in Paris. 
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  • His use of calculus to overcome various discrepancies in engineering issues highly impressed the Académie des Sciences and thus, he was appointed as the Bossut's correspondent on 6 July, 1774. 
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  • In 1777, while posted at Cherbourg, he wrote and submitted his most famous memoir on the workings of a magnetic compass for the Grand Prix of the Académie des Sciences. The paper won him a share of the Grand Prix prize money and also featured his earliest work on the torsion balance. 
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  • He worked with brilliant military engineer Marquis de Montalembert in 1779, for the construction of a wooden fort in Rochefort. 
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  • While supervising the construction, Coulomb continued his research and wrote his major work on friction, using the shipyards of Rochefort as his laboratories. Théorie des machines simples (his paper on friction) won the 1781 Grand Prix from the Académie des Sciences. 
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  • From 1781 onwards, his life took a turn for the better and he was elected by the Académie des Sciences as the member of its mechanics section. He relocated to Paris and became an engineering consultant and devoted rest of his life to physics. 
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  • Between 1785 and 1791, he wrote seven crucial memoirs that dealt with various aspects of electricity and magnetism. 
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  • He also went on to formulate a theory, known as the ‘Coulomb’s Law’, where he verified that the force between two electrical charges is proportional to the product of the charges and inversely proportional to the square of the distance between them. 
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  • He was appointed as the caretaker of the royal fountains in 1784 and thus handled a chunk of Paris’s water supply. 
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  • After the French Revolution many institutions in the country were restructured; uncomfortable with the situation, he retired from Corps du Génie in 1791 
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  • In 1793, he moved to his house near Blois, where continued his scientific research. 
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  • In December 1795, he once again returned to Paris, as he was elected as the member of the Institut de France. 
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  • He largely remained engrossed in education related service between 1802 and 1806, while he served at the post of inspector general of public instruction. 
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    Major Works - Research Papers
  • In 1785, his three major scientific reports: ‘Premier Mémoire sur l’Électricité et le Magnétisme’, ‘sur l’Électricité et le Magnétisme’ and ‘Troisième Mémoire sur l’Électricité et le Magnétisme’, were published on electricity and magnetism. 
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  • Another of his well known major work, ‘Septième Mémoire’ (1789) elucidated about the electric charges and magnetic poles (law of attraction and repulsion). 
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    Personal Life & Legacy
  • His first son was born on 26 February, 1790 and second on 30 July 1797 to Louise Françoise Le Proust Desormeaux, a women he loved but did not marry until 1802. 
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  • Faced with ill-health all his life, this great physicist finally succumbed to a fever. 
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  • A lunar feature, ‘Crater Coulomb’ is named after him to honor his contributions to the world. 
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    Trivia
  • His name is included among the 72 names inscribed on the Eiffel Tower. 
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  • The SI unit of electric charge, the coulomb, was named after him. 
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  • The theory of earth pressure and the generalized wedge theory, related to soil mechanics propounded by him still form the basis of engineering practice. 
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  • He is credited with the invention of the torsion balance. 
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    See the life and event of Charles Augustin De Coulomb in Chronological Order

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    Videos About Charles Augustin De Coulomb

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    Books by Charles Augustin De Coulomb

      Recherches Sur Les Moyens D'Executer Sous L'Eau Toutes Sortes De Travaux Hydrauliques Sans Employer Aucun Epuisement (1779) (French Edition)

      by Charles Augustin De Coulomb

      Recherches Sur Les Moyens D'Executer Sous L'Eau Toutes Sortes De Travaux Hydrauliques Sans Employer Aucun Epuisement (1779) (French Edition)

      by Charles Augustin De Coulomb

      Recherches Sur Les Moyens D'Executer Sous L'Eau Toutes Sortes De Travaux Hydrauliques Sans Employer Aucun Epuisement (1779) (French Edition)

      by Charles Augustin De Coulomb

    Books About Charles Augustin De Coulomb

      **REPRINT** Coulomb, Charles Augustin. The administration of the English borders during the reign of Elizabeth. Philadelphia University of Pennsylvania; New York,$bD. Appleton and Company, agents, 1911.**REPRINT**

      by Coulomb. Charles Augustin.***NOTE: THIS IS A PRINT ON DEMAND VERSION FROM THE ORIGINAL BOOK***