Mr. Luke Handley                Department of Chemistry                University of Bristol


Famous French Chemists


    The French are a proud nation as anyone will gladly point out. They have a strong belief that anything and everything of worth in this world can either be readily found in their home-land or, in the unlikely case of the product in question being foreign, that the French originally had the idea stolen from them. They boast the best cuisine in the world, they produce the only wine worth drinking, they have one of the most beautiful countrysides and, of course, they have the greatest football team on the planet.


    This can unfortunately lead to a small amount of skepticism, especially from their old and trusty friends the British. Indeed, when representatives of these two cultures meet, the ensuing conversation tends to turn into a school playground argument, which is rather unfortunate for two people whose countries enjoy such a long and `amiable` relationship.

    It is therefore no surprise that when talking about chemistry in the comfortable atmosphere of the pub the other day, my suggestion that France, and its chemists, have made some very important and significant contributions to this field over the past centuries was met with general laughter, friendly abuse, and the odd comment along the lines of "yeah right, like in the same way that France is supposed to have great football players!". This general ignorance is also encouraged by the English incapability to pronounce foreign names. Many a time have I sat in the company of fellow chemists, or in lecture theatres, and shuddered when the normally silent `t` in `Du Pont` or the `r` in `Lavoisier` is pronounced.

        I have therefore decided to give here a brief presentation of some of the most influential and recognized French chemists and their contributions to this science.


Lavoisier    Laplace    Pasteur    Marie Curie    Du Pont

References and Acknowledgements