Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Edmé Mariotte...Boyle's Law/Mariotte's Law

Somewhat of a mystery man: No record of his birth date or place or how old he was when he died on May 12th, 1684.

Bill Ashworth wrote in the Linda Hall Library Newsletter...

He "...just suddenly shows up in the historical record as a member of the newly founded Academie des Sciences in Paris in 1666. He made his initial mark with a theory that sap circulates in plants just like blood does in animals, and with a bombshell discovery--the eye has a blind spot! He demonstrated this by putting two spots on a wall, one about two feet to the right of the other, and a little below, and showing that when you covered your left eye and backed up to about nine feet, the right spot suddenly disappears. But his most important work was in experimental mechanics. Whereas predecessors like Descartes had wondered what happens when a large object, moving at a certain speed, collides with a smaller object, moving at a different speed, and came to conclusions based on how nature ought to operate, Mariotte asked the same questions experimentally. He made pendulum bobs out of clay and let them collide, seeing how the degree of flattening varied with speed. He would drop ivory balls onto a steel anvil covered with talc, and see how the impact pattern varied with the height of fall (and demonstrating, in the process, that even a hard ivory ball is compressed on impact). In a eulogy published after his death, Mariotte was called “the man who introduced experimental physics to France.” Mariotte also discovered that when air is compressed, the volume decreases in proportion to the increase in pressure. English-speaking countries refer to this as Boyle's law; in France, it is known as 'Mariotte's law.'"

Edmé Mariotte [Wikipedia]

Boyle's Law [Wikipedia]

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