Pierre Louis Dulong

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Pierre Louis Dulong
Pierre Louis Dulong.jpg
Born (1785-02-12)12 February 1785
Died 19 July 1838(1838-07-19) (aged 53)

Pierre Louis Dulong FRS FRSE IOF (12 February 1785 – 19 July 1838) was a French physicist and chemist, remembered today largely for the law of Dulong and Petit. He worked on the specific heat capacity and the expansion and refractive indices of gases.

Life and work[edit]

Dulong was born in Rouen, France.

An only child, he was orphaned at the age of 4, he was brought up by his aunt on Auxerre. He gained his secondary education in Auxerre and the Lycée Pierre Corneille in Rouen[1] before entering the École Polytechnique, Paris in 1801. He began studying medicine, but gave this up to concentrate on science, working under the direction of Thénard. Dulong succeeded Alexis Thérèse Petit as professor of physics, from 1820 to 1829, then was directeur des études until his death.

In chemistry, he contributed to knowledge on:

Dulong also discovered the dangerously sensitive nitrogen trichloride in 1812, losing two fingers and an eye in the process.[2]

In 1819, Dulong collaborated with Alexis Petit to show that the mass heat capacity of metallic elements are inversely proportional to their atomic masses, this being now known as the Dulong-Petit law.[3] In 1820, he succeeded Petit (1791-1820) as professor of physics at École Polytechnique. Dulong studied the elasticity of steam, the measurement of temperatures, and the behavior of elastic fluids. He made the first precise comparison of the mercury- and air-temperature scales. In 1830, he was elected a foreign member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.

He died in Paris and his is one of the names of 72 scientists inscribed on the Eiffel Tower. At the time of his death, he was working on the development of precise methods in calorimetry.

He is buried in Père Lachaise Cemetery.[4]


He was married to Emelie Augustine Riviere in 1803.[5]


  1. ^ Lycée Pierre Corneille de Rouen - History
  2. ^ Thénard J. L.; Berthollet C. L. (1813). "Report on the work of Pierre Louis Dulong". Annales de Chimie et de Physique. 86 (6): 37–43. 
  3. ^ Laing, Mary; Laing, Michael (2006). "Dulong and Petit's Law: We Should Not Ignore Its Importance". Journal of Chemical Education. 83 (10): 1499–1504. Bibcode:2006JChEd..83.1499L. doi:10.1021/ed083p1499. 
  4. ^ http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=44170682
  5. ^ BIOGRAPHICAL INDEX OF FORMER FELLOWS OF THE ROYAL SOCIETY OF EDINBURGH 1783 – 2002 (PDF). The Royal Society of Edinburgh. July 2006. ISBN 0 902 198 84 X. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]