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Émilie du Châtelet & Voltaire

  • Google celebrated Émilie du Châtelet (17 December 1706 – 10 September 1749)
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    Relationship with Voltaire
    In the frontispiece to Voltaire’s book on Newton’s philosophy, du Châtelet appears as Voltaire’s muse, reflecting Newton’s heavenly insights down to Voltaire.

    Du Châtelet may have met Voltaire in her childhood at one of her father’s salons; Voltaire himself dates their meeting to 1729, when he returned from his exile in London. However, their friendship developed from May 1733 when she re-entered society after the birth of her third child.[4]

    Du Châtelet invited Voltaire to live at her country house at Cirey in Haute-Marne, northeastern France, and he became her long-time companion. There she studied physics and mathematics and published scientific articles and translations. To judge from Voltaire’s letters to friends and their commentaries on each other’s work, they lived together with great mutual liking and respect. As a literary rather than scientific person, Voltaire implicitly acknowledged her contributions to his 1738 Elements of the Philosophy of Newton, where the chapters on optics show strong similarities with her own Essai sur l’optique. She was able to contribute further to the campaign by a laudatory review in the Journal des savants.[12]

    Sharing a passion for science, Voltaire and Du Châtelet collaborated scientifically. They set up a laboratory in Du Châtelet’s home. In a healthy competition, they both entered the 1738 Paris Academy prize contest on the nature of fire, since Du Châtelet disagreed with Voltaire’s essay. Although neither of them won, both essays received honourable mention and were published.[13] She thus became the first woman to have a scientific paper published by the Academy

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