Physics

Charles Augustin Coulomb


French physicist Charles de Coulomb (1736 - 1806) began his research in the field of electricity and magnetism to participate in a competition opened by the Académie des Sciences of Paris on the manufacture of magnetized needles. His studies led to the so-called Coulomb Law.

Charles-Augustin de Coulomb was born in Angoulême on June 14, 1736. He spent nine years in the West Indies as a military engineer and, in the interludes of his professional activities, devoted himself to investigations of applied mechanics. Back in France, he became interested in electricity studies. The publication of numerous articles of great repercussion in the scientific media earned him the entrance to the Academie des Sciences in 1781.

He began to study how to evaluate the magnetic force of a magnetized bar. To this end, he devised the torsion balance, similar to that used by English physicist and chemist Henry Cavendish to measure gravitational pull. The results of his research were published from 1785 to 1789 in the Memoires de l'Académie Royale des Sciences (Memories of the Royal Academy of Sciences).

Coulomb's experiments on the effects of the attraction and repulsion of two electric charges allowed him to find that Newton's law of universal attraction also applied to electricity. He then established the law of electric attractions, according to which the forces of attraction or repulsion between electric charges are directly proportional to the charges (masses) and inversely proportional to the square of the distance between them. Coulomb died in Paris on August 23, 1806.