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Emilie du Chatelet
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Mathematician
    (December 17, 1706-September 10, 1749)
    Born in Paris , France
    Best known for her translation of, and commentary on Isaac Newton's 'Principia Mathematica'
    Also published 'Institutions de Physique,' 'Principes mathématiques de la philosophie naturelle par feue Madame la Marquise du Châtelet,'and 'Dissertation sur la nature et la propagation du feu'
    Early advocate for the concept of energy as a transferable currency
    Her name sounds like 'Chardonnay.'
    At the age of 19, she was married off to a thirty four year old Marquis.
    Her love affair with Voltaire has overshadowed her contributions to the field of mathematics and physics.
    She cheated on her husband not only with Voltaire, but also with renowned philosophers Pierre de Maupertius and Julien de La Mettrie.
    She believed that the only pleasures left for a woman when she was old were study, gambling, and greed.
    She became pregnant out of wedlock at forty two, by a courtier.
    She successfully convinced her husband the child was his, with the help of Voltaire.
    Upon the child's birth, Voltaire wrote 'the little girl arrives while her mother was at her writing desk, scribbling some Newtonian theories, and the newly born baby was placed temporarily on a quarto volume of geometry, while her mother gathered together her papers and was put to bed.'
    She was accused by one of her tutors of merely rehashing their lessons when writing 'Institutions de Physique.'
    Voltaire called her 'a great man whose only fault was being born a woman.'
    Her translation of Newton's 'Principia' is still the standard text in France, today.
    She stirred controversy when she dared to critique Newton's theory of energy by suggesting that energy was a transferable currency.
    She repeated and demonstrated an experiment originally carried out by Dutch scientist Willem Gravesande in which she dropped two balls from different heights into a sheet of clay.
    The quantity of clay displaced by both balls indicated that their kinetic energy was directly proportional to the velocity, proving her prescience.
    Her conclusions have been seen as precursor to Einstein's mass-energy formula.
    Fittingly, she is featured in the 2005 PBS Documentary, 'Einstein's Big Idea,' as one who laid the groundwork for his Theory of Relativity (along with Faraday, Lavoisier, and Meitner).
    She and her husband allowed Voltaire to hide out in their home to avoid exile after insulting the King.
    She enjoyed a healthy intellectual competition with Voltaire, often collaborating with him on experiments in her home.
    Her 1738 essay on the nature of fire, entered in a prize contest, received honorable mention and was published by the Paris Academy, making her the first woman to have a scientific paper published by the Academy.
    She was an advocate for education for girls.
    She openly criticized the Bible and the writings of John Locke.
    She died from complications of childbirth, less than a week after her daughter was born (her daughter would die a year later).
    A main-belt minor planet and a crater on Venus are named in her honor.

Credit: BoyWiththeGreenHair


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