Talk:Antoine Lavoisier

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Former good article Antoine Lavoisier was one of the Natural sciences good articles, but it has been removed from the list. There are suggestions below for improving the article to meet the good article criteria. Once these issues have been addressed, the article can be renominated. Editors may also seek a reassessment of the decision if they believe there was a mistake.
April 25, 2007 Good article reassessment Delisted
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edit·history·watch·refresh Stock post message.svg To-do list for Antoine Lavoisier:

Page width[edit]

Can anyone do something about the excess width of this page? I can't print it properly (unless I go to landscape mode) and this seems to be the only Wikipedia page like that. - 15:51, 25 February 2002

Fixed --maveric149 00:23, 1 March 2002
Thanks. There turn out to be a few others like that but that one had been the most egregious. - 07:42, 8 March 2002


After reading a biography which noted that his ("wife's") relatives took up Lavoisiers notes and founded a chemical company -later- to become "Dupont" - 06:25, 22 March 2008 (UTC)


As a student my class was shown a film which had a hydrogen - electrolysis flame lamp that was in his "restored" lab. He must have known what he was up to - to burn water as it seemed from condensation! It was shaped all out of glass with a sort of alembic shape at the top. I wish some gadget company would make these. It seemed perpetual, but it also seems that It might have had to have had a battery or leyden jar connected - 06:35, 22 March 2008 (UTC)


Recently an anonymously added: "One of his actions that may have sealed his fate was his critisism, a few years earlier, of a scientific paper written by a young lawyer named Mara, who subsequently became a leading revolutionary." I've never heard of this, and have no idea who "Mara" is. Maybe a typo for "Marat"? Does anyone know something about this? Unless someone can say something more substantial or cite a source, I'm inclined to remove this. -- Jmabel | Talk 04:37, Apr 28, 2005 (UTC)

Apparently his family name was originally spelled Mara. Here's a reference: [1]
RodC 00:55, 8 May 2005 (UTC)
and another one: [2].
[3] seems proof enough, there are more pages with a similar story. However, it should simply become "Marat" I think, no need to get into the name trouble on Lavoisier's page. Renke 01:09, 8 May 2005 (UTC). Note however, that Marat was not a lawyer but a scientist...

Just seen this part of the Lavoisier entry and I can assure you that it's pure fabrication about rejecting a scientific invention that could see invisible lightwaves. Marat had called himself Marat since 1775 – see his MD certificate from St Andrews University Before the revolution Marat's personal relations with Lavoisier were minimal. He borrowed a book from him in 1780. There is an inscription from Marat to this effect in his book – "Experiences d'électricité" by Jallabert (1749) – now in the Lavoisier collection at Cornell University. Later Lavoisier became known to Marat as one of the important members who opposed his scientific claims. So Marat took against him, most notably in his "Les charlatans modernes" (1791). There you have it in a nutshell. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:59, 21 March 2012 (UTC)


I've changed the treatment of the severed head story. Lavoisier, according to the story, did an experiment. It's unscientific to reject the results of an experiment because they seem surprising. There is no source given for the assertion attributed to "biologists," and it's actually pretty common for farm animals to continue to do stuff after their heads have been chopped off. Talk to anyone who's had some experience slaughtering chickens, and they'll tell you that they often squawk, and the bodies even run around afterwards. Granted, that could be explained as a reflex, whereas blinking would be a voluntary action, but I think the original treatment was stated way too strongly unless it can be backed up with some kind of reference. In fact, one of the external links concludes by saying that there *is* empirical evidence in favor of the possibility that the head retains consciousness. --Bcrowell 19:33, 10 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Is there a case for removing this section completely?
Yes. As you wrote (below), there's no evidence that this incident was part of Lavoisier's life or death. I deleted it. -- Astrochemist 03:36, 31 May 2007 (UTC)
Whether or not there is evidence for decapitated heads having reactions, there is no evidence whatever that Lavoisier himself performed this final experiment. As the Straight Dope reference says, the story only started going the rounds after the Discovery Channel program was aired. Before that, neither biographies of Lavoisier nor books about the guillotine make any mention of it. Alternatively, if it's considered important enough to mention, perhaps it could be moved to the `thinking heads' section in the guillotine entry and cross-referenced, and/or combined with a discussion of the verifiability of other Lavoisier stories such as whether or not anyone actually said "La Republique n'a pas besoin de savants".--Linden Salter 20:53, 13 March 2006 (UTC)
Yes, a reference is needed, or at least some editing. - Astrochemist 03:36, 31 May 2007 (UTC)

I think it is worth citing this false information in the article, the notability of the dispute is worth mentioning in my opinion. Something like, "Lavoisier has been credited with conducting an /ad hoc/ medical study during his own execution. Lavoiser would blink after his head was severed, and his assistant counted each blink. There are no sources that document this experiment." If academia and the Discovery Channel mention it, then it's worth acknowledging. -- (talk) 04:21, 29 January 2008 (UTC)


The Nova special "Einstein's Big Idea" has a lot to say about Lavoisier's wife, but she has minimum mention here. According to the special, she was helpful with a lot of his experiments. Can anyone confirm this? Is she worthy of mention? Thanks Jimaginator 13:38, 27 October 2005 (UTC)

"The Republic has no need of savants"[edit]

Jean-Pierre Poirier (Lavoisier, Pygmalion, 1993) thinks this quotation is apocryphal. Poirier also gives more detail about Mme Lavoisier's role as a scientific assistant and also how she may have contributed inadvertently to his execution by openly showing her contempt for the mistress of a high revolutionary official who could have pardoned him. The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk • contribs) 20 Dec 2005.

Madison Smartt Bell is professor of English and director of the Kratz Center for Creative Writing at Goucher College in Maryland. His most recent book is a nonfiction biography of pioneering chemist Antoine Lavoisier, Lavoisier in the Year One: The Birth of a New Science in an Age of Revolution (W. W. Norton, 2005).


I do know Lavoisier had some very important contributions to geology. Can anybody contribute to this article in regards to this - Dominic Hollands —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) 15 December 2006.

Father of modern chemistry : The reason is notable[edit]

As far as I recall from school, the reason he was named father of modern chemistry, was that he managed to show that exactly two parts hydrogen and one part oxygen are needed to produce water, thereby proving atom theory. If it is in the article I can not see it. If it is not in there, it should be. If I am wrong, please advice here.DanielDemaret 15:21, 24 March 2006 (UTC)

"Parts" there is very tricky. By weight, the ratio of oxygen to hydrogen is actually 8:1. The notion of atomic weight is at least a generation later (I'm not sure of the dates; surprisingly, neither our article on atomic mass nor on oxygen nor on the periodic table takes up the topic). - Jmabel | Talk 06:57, 30 March 2006 (UTC)
The parts were measured in volume, not weight. One mol of gas is not tricky at all :) DanielDemaret 09:43, 30 March 2006 (UTC)
I am assuming you are aware that one mole of gas takes up the same volume , regardless of which atom it is, since intra-molecular forces are thought to be negligable in a gas? DanielDemaret 09:49, 30 March 2006 (UTC)
What Lavoisier basically did was to prove Avogadro's law with his gas experiment.DanielDemaret 09:52, 30 March 2006 (UTC)
I am not saying that he single-handedly created atom theory, but only that this experiment made the fact that exactly one volume-parts of oxygen and two volume-parts of hydrogen well known and that this was what started speculation, for example Avogadros hypothesis that lead to the atom explanation that we have today.DanielDemaret 10:00, 30 March 2006 (UTC)
I kind of thought all of this was common knowledge, but if I can not find any source / reference for this directly, I shall certainly not suggest that it be put into the article.

It might be interesting to trace the line of ideas and experiments, step-by-step from one man to another to trace the evolution of the atomic theory in a special project? DanielDemaret 10:21, 30 March 2006 (UTC) The make a scetchy history at Atomic theory. Its a start, but it does not explain much about how the ideas developed. DanielDemaret 10:29, 30 March 2006 (UTC)

Lavoisier predated atomic theory (that was Dalton) and the concept of molecule (Avogadro). The experiment that shows that water has two parts of hydrogen to one of oxygen is attributed to Gay-Lussac. Itub 01:21, 10 January 2007 (UTC)

Metric system[edit]

I was surprised by the omission of Lavoisier's contribution to the metric system. It was actually even broader than the one we know today, with 10 days weeks etc. Tried to add it. Great page anyway. Tremblot 12:30, 12 May 2006 (UTC)

Men in wigs[edit]

[4] made the following deletion: "It was later discovered that the sculptor had not actually copied Lavoisier's head for the statue, but used a spare head of the Marquis de Condorcet, the Secretary of the Academy of Sciences during Lavoisier's last years. Lack of money prevented alterations being made and, in any case, the French argued pragmatically that all men in wigs looked alike anyway." I believe the deleted material was entirely accurate, but it was uncited. Does someone have a citation to restore it? - Jmabel | Talk 07:30, 27 August 2006 (UTC)

Who is Maquois?[edit]

Is this a mistake for Pierre Macquer? MeltBanana 19:03, 30 September 2006 (UTC)

Cultural depictions of Antoine Lavoisier[edit]

I've started an approach that may apply to Wikipedia's Core Biography articles: creating a branching list page based on in popular culture information. I started that last year while I raised Joan of Arc to featured article when I created Cultural depictions of Joan of Arc, which has become a featured list. Recently I also created Cultural depictions of Alexander the Great out of material that had been deleted from the biography article. Since cultural references sometimes get deleted without discussion, I'd like to suggest this approach as a model for the editors here. Regards, Durova 15:42, 18 October 2006 (UTC)

merge Marie-Anne Pierrette Paulze (Pierrette) with Marie-Anne Pierette Paulze[edit]

Aleichem 03:27, 19 November 2006 (UTC)

Clearly. This does not even need to be discussed. - Jmabel | Talk 00:58, 21 November 2006 (UTC)
Done Aleichem 09:02, 21 November 2006 (UTC)

Moved from article[edit]

The following was at the top of the article. It makes no sense to me. I suspect near-graffiti, but figured I'd bring it here. By the way, this sat for over 48 hours in the article. - Jmabel | Talk 05:52, 30 November 2006 (UTC)



 L' = L (\frac{L}{3H} - H)


[End copied]

Never heard of this one[edit]

"As a curiosity, in 1776 he also gave name to the first automobile, a three-wheeled monster powered by steam." I removed this, since I think it's nonsense. Anybody know about this and has an attribution? Awolf002 15:49, 1 December 2006 (UTC)

I don't know about the Lavoisier connection, but see Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot, which I assume is what this is about. I don't think it was the very first, though. - Jmabel | Talk 04:49, 4 December 2006 (UTC)
Yes, I heard about the "first steam 'autombile'". But I very much doubt "he gave name" to it, whatever that means, exactly. Awolf002 12:51, 4 December 2006 (UTC)

Sentence moved from article about Madame Lavoisier[edit]

I have moved this sentence from the article:-

As a result of her close work with her husband, it is difficult to separate her individual contributions from his, but it is correctly assumed that much of the work accredited to him bears her fingerprints.

There is no evidence presented that this is correct and it seems doubtfull. It is not mentioned in Lavoisier by Jean-Pierre Poirier, University of Pennslyvania Press, 1996. The support for her husband that is still in the article is clear, but there needs to be a good source for anything beyond it. --Bduke 03:06, 1 January 2007 (UTC)


I am delisting this article. It does not meet the requirements of GA in regards to sources. Awadewit 05:24, 25 April 2007 (UTC)

Lavoisier as part of Lunar Society[edit]

Why is Lavoisier categorized as a member of the Lunar Society? Was he an honorary member or something? I was under the impression that the Lunar Society was mostly a British affair. Does anyone have a source for this? Awadewit Talk 23:20, 13 May 2007 (UTC)

I have removed this category and the reference to it in the article. Awadewit Talk 13:29, 22 May 2007 (UTC)


The discovery of oxygen is difficult to assign with certainty, but I noticed that the articles on Priestley, Scheele and Lavoisier all gave slightly different attributions! I have adjusted all three to match the carefully described sequence of events given at Oxygen. Mooncow 21:32, 20 July 2007 (UTC)


I have semi-protected this page for 5 days as there has been excessive vandalism by anon and new users. Let us hope it calms down and they move elsewhere or better stop. --Bduke 00:46, 18 September 2007 (UTC)

Seeking citation for picture[edit]

Does anyone have details about the two pictures in this article that show a person standing behind a giant magnifying glass? I don't. I searched several books on Lavoisier and on the history of chemistry and found nothing. I also searched Beretta's Imaging a Career in Science: The Iconography of Antoine Laurent Lavoisier, but came up empty. Help will be appreciated. - Astrochemist (talk) 23:03, 9 February 2008 (UTC)

The above was written about 6 weeks ago. If the picture can't be traced to Lavoisier through a legitimate scholarly source then it ought to be changed. I just did. Please add a robust reference for the picture (not just another web page, picture collection, etc.) if you have one. I'll keep looking too! -- Astrochemist (talk) 17:46, 21 March 2008 (UTC)

First sentence[edit]

The first sentence reads "Antoine-Laurent de Lavoisier ... was a French nobleman prominent in the histories of chemistry, finance, biology, and economics." Are the finance and economics categories justified? Almost any book on the history of chemistry will highlight Lavoisier, and he is certainly in some works on the history of biology. Is he actually listed in the leading books on the history of either economics or finance? I don't know. If he is then can one or more references be added? As the article now reads, four areas (chemistry, biology, finance, and economics) are in the opening sentence, but only two are supported by details and citations later on the article. Help and enlightenment will be appreciated. - Astrochemist (talk) 22:09, 20 April 2008 (UTC)

I posted the above about 8 months ago and so, hearing nothing from the community, I'll remove the mention of economics and finance from the article's first sentence. My understanding is that in Wikipedia the burden of proof for additions is on the Editor who adds material. See this page, for example. If the article prior to my change was correct in saying that Lavoisier is "prominent in the histories of chemistry, finance, biology, and economics" then please revert and add the appropriate citation(s). Lavoisier was both fascinating and influential in the sciences, but I just don't know of solid, robust references for his notability in finance and economics. Enlightenment will be welcome, and thank you in advance! - Astrochemist (talk) 21:35, 29 October 2008 (UTC)

Encarta/Wikipedia Similarities?[edit]


Some of Lavoisier's most important experiments examined the nature of combustion, or burning. Through these experiments, he demonstrated that burning is a process that involves the combination of a substance with oxygen. He also demonstrated the role of oxygen in animal and plant respiration. Lavoisier's explanation of combustion replaced the phlogiston theory, which postulates that materials release a substance called phlogiston when they burn.


Some of Lavoisier's most important experiments were in thermodynamics and the nature of combustion, or burning. Through these experiments, he demonstrated that burning is a process that involves the combination of a substance with oxygen. (He gave this gas its name, which means "acid former," incorrectly believing that all acids had to contain it). Lavoisier also demonstrated the role of oxygen in the rusting of metal, as well as oxygen's role in animal and plant respiration. (talk) 16:06, 8 September 2008 (UTC)

Fixed. Mion (talk) 16:48, 8 September 2008 (UTC)

Who erased my edit?[edit]

I added the facts about his 'final experiment' en guillotine in Final days, execution, and aftermath in late October. It also had a credible reference with publications to the book from which the facts came, Doctors Killed George Washington by Erin Barrett and Jack Mingo. I could not find evidence of the erasing in the histories of the article, and I would like to know who is responsible for effacing the amends from the page. Thank you. BlueCaper (talk) 18:04, 28 November 2008 (UTC)

It looks as if it is this edit. The problem is that his final experiment seems to be entirely myth with no real reliable sources. This has been discussed many times I think and there seems no consensus to include it. --Bduke (Discussion) 01:59, 29 November 2008 (UTC)

No mention of the caloric theory of heat?[edit]

Lavoisier is held to have introduced and popularized the notorious caloric theory of heat. Yet there's no mention of it here. Why is this? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 06:24, 22 December 2008 (UTC)

Because this article, like most Wikipedia articles, is a work in progress and is incomplete. Feel free to add the missing information if you are knowledgeable about this topic! --Itub (talk) 19:54, 23 December 2008 (UTC)
Yes, his work with Laplace is utterly missing. JKeck (talk) 05:22, 31 January 2010 (UTC)


I have added a link to an annotated Google map showing the location of Lavoisier's laboratory in Paris. I am the owner of this map. Questions and comments can be addressed to me at Epfr (talk) 21:32, 7 October 2009 (UTC)

Phosphorus as an element[edit]

To Material scientist: I'm just wondering why you instantly deleted the edit which said that Lavoisier recognized P as an element. The article on phosphorus does say that Antoine Lavoisier recognized phosphorus as an element in 1777 with an apparently reliable source. Is the information in that article incorrect? I know, the edit in this article was poorly written and by an anon, but I think that is only a reason to be suspicious and not to delete automatically. Sometimes on checking the edit proves to be essentially correct and can be improved rather than deleted. Dirac66 (talk) 23:23, 11 November 2012 (UTC)

My apologies for unexplained revert. The addition was valid, but I wonder why Lavoisier is credited for this, particularly in Template:Infobox phosphorus: as I understand (i) Hennig Brand discovered phosphorus as element years earlier and several other notable scientists are mentioned after him and before Lavoisier in the phosphorus article; (ii) our reference on that Lavoisier recognized P as an element is a primary source, i.e. analysis of a translated text. Materialscientist (talk) 23:44, 11 November 2012 (UTC)
OK, thank you. Re (i) I had understood that Brand discovered P as a substance without recognizing it as an element, but I don't have any source which says this. Re (ii) I realize on reading over the (translated) Lavoisier paper that it does not contain the word element, so it is not clear why this should be regarded as the identification of P as an element. So yes, I agree that we need better sources on this subject. And I will leave to you the question of what to do with the mention of Lavoisier in the phosphorus article. Dirac66 (talk) 00:16, 12 November 2012 (UTC)

law of conservation paragraph[edit]

"Thus, for instance, if a piece of wood is burned to ashes, the total mass remains unchanged[citation needed; gases may escape]."

There is no citation needed here, it is explaining the law of conservation of energy which has already been cited. The total mass of the wood remains the same, though most of it has been chemically transformed into a gas via combustion. The sentence should be amended to communicate this. [Preceding edit by - sign your posts on talk pages]

I have removed the [citation needed; gases may escape], but for a more historically accurate reason. Lavoisier in 1774 did not know about conservation of energy which was discovered in the 1840's by Joule, nor about mass-energy equivalence (Einstein 1905). What he did do was to perform his reactions inside sealed glass vessels, so that gases could not escape. Dirac66 (talk) 01:40, 19 March 2013 (UTC)


Someone ( in 2005 made the first mention of Lavoisier being exonerated by the French government ( Anyone know where they got it from, or have any information about it? Neegzistuoja (talk) 04:49, 29 August 2013 (UTC)

Birth date error by Madison Bell?[edit]

Two days ago Lavoisier's birth date in the opening sentence was changed from 1743 to 1742 with a reference to the biography by Madison Smartt Bell. As shown here, Bell's book does indeed say 1742. However most other sources say 1743, so whom do we believe? I would say that if Bell just says 1742 with no further comment, we have to follow the preponderant opinion and assume that Bell just made an error. If on the other hand Bell's book includes (perhaps in a bibliographic appendix) some evidence that other sources are wrong, then we can consider that evidence. Can someone check a complete copy of Bell's book to see if there is any further discussion of the discrepancy in birth date? Dirac66 (talk) 16:21, 4 December 2014 (UTC)

No reaction after a week, so I have found an authoritative source in the biography on the CNRS (Centre national de la recherche scientifique) website, and I have restored 1743. Dirac66 (talk) 02:10, 13 December 2014 (UTC)