Antoine Lavoisier Known as the “father of modern chemistry”, Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier (1743–94) was a French chemist. He named the gases oxygen and hydrogen, and worked out the role oxygen played in combustion (burning). He compiled the first proper list of known elements and helped to reform the way chemicals were named. He also discovered that, although matter could change its form or its shape, its mass always remained the same. In so doing, Lavoisier completely changed the way chemistry was practised. Lavoisier also helped to develop the metric system in order to make weights and measures uniform throughout France.
Antoine Lavoisier was born into a wealthy family on 26th August 1743 in Paris. At the age of five, he inherited a large family fortune when his mother died. When he was just 11, Antoine attended the Collège Mazarin, also in Paris. After a formal education in law and literature, he began to specialize in maths, botany, astronomy and chemistry. He was particularly inspired by Abbé Nicolas Louis de Lacaille, a mathematician and astronomer, who encouraged the young Lavoisier's interest in meteorology (the study of weather). A highly able student, Lavoisier helped in the compilation of the first geological map of France.
Lavoisier's work led to a dramatic increase in the production of gunpowder in France. This was a major factor in his country's military success during the Napoleonic wars.
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