SHEILA TERRY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY SHEILA TERRY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Joseph Gay-Lussac. Coloured historical portrait of the French chemist Joseph Louis Gay-Lussac (1778- 1850). In 1804 he 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.
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