Joseph Gay-Lussac, French chemist

Joseph Gay-Lussac, French chemist

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Credit: SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Joseph Gay-Lussac (1778-1850), French chemist. In 1804 Gay-Lussac made balloon ascents to measure changes in magnetism and air composition with altitude. In 1808 he published the law of combining volumes. This states that the volumes of gases that react with one another, or are produced in a chemical reaction, are in the ratios of small integers (whole numbers). His work gave support to Dalton's atomic theory, and formed the basis for Avogadro's law. Collaborating with Thenard, he was the first to isolate the element boron, and studied the newly-isolated elements sodium, potassium, and iodine. Engraving from Vies des Savants Illustres (1875).

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