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Scientists throughout History : Kinetic Energy and Émilie du Châtelet. Rebecca Wenning. Part I. Historical background. Sir Isaac Newton. 1642-1727 Discourse on vis viva (today known as energy) Newton believed: E  mv Dutch scientist performed experiments with metal cylinders and lard:

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part i
Part I
  • Historical background
sir isaac newton
Sir Isaac Newton
  • 1642-1727
  • Discourse on vis viva (today known as energy)
  • Newton believed:
    • E  mv
  • Dutch scientist performed experiments with metal cylinders and lard:
    • E  v2
  • Who was correct?
milie du ch telet
Émilie du Châtelet
  • 1706-1749: Only recently recognized by French National Library on her 300th birthday
milie du ch telet5
Émilie du Châtelet
  • Fortunately for her, Émilie’s husband, 15 years older, disinterested in science and always away soldiering, allowed Émilie her “boyish” ways with books and studying.
in the meanwhile
In the Meanwhile…
  • “In the year 1733 I met a young lady who happened to think nearly as I did.”
  • “Everything about her is noble, her countenance, her tastes…her politeness.”
fran ois marie arouet
François Marie Arouet
  • “Voltaire”
  • 1694-1778
  • Interested in science
  • Studied Isaac Newton
    • Familiar with visa viva
cirey
Cirey
  • From 1734 until Émilie’s death in 1734, she and Voltaire lived together as friends (with the approval of her husband).

Worked hard

Partied hard

exile
Exile
  • Voltaire angered French government with his political writings
  • Fled to Holland from

political persecution

    • Saw work of Dutch scientist
the experiment
The Experiment
  • Following Voltaire’s trip to Holland, Voltaire explains to Émilie the energy experiment he saw.
  • She is already busy:
    • Mathematical, philosophical, and religious papers
    • Paper on nature of fire (would have won competition had she not been a woman)
    • Paper on color (discovered infrared radiation)
    • First translation of Newton’s Principia
dutch experiment
Dutch Experiment
  • Kinetic energy seems to have something to do with m and v.
  • Newton: KE mv
  • Dutch: …but KE v2

WHO IS RIGHT?

part ii
Part II
  • Experimentation
dutch experiment13
Dutch Experiment

KE

(# drops)

KE

(# drops)

Velocity

Mass

close of an epoch
Close of an Epoch
  • Émilie performs the experiment and determines that E=mv2, not E=mv.
  • At 42, she becomes pregnant, but becomes ill with an infection and died before giving birth.
  • “I have lost…half of myself, a soul for which my soul seems to have been made.” ~Voltaire
improvements
Improvements
  • Sir Thomas Young performed the same experiment as that of the Dutch scientist and Émilie.
  • Changed vis viva to be called “energy”
  • Determined final form of the equation:

KE=(1/2)mv2

issues to consider i
Issues to Consider I
  • Who got credit for KE equation? Who should have gotten it?
  • In which instances of life was Émilie oppressed as a woman scientist?
  • Who were the people and what were the contexts under which she was oppressed?
issues to consider ii
Issues to Consider II
  • Beyond “fairness” issues, what are the negative consequences of oppression of any minority group in science?
  • Have you ever felt oppressed in science? When? Why?
issues to consider iii
Issues to Consider III
  • According to S & E statistics, is there still likely oppression of women?
  • What are some of the institutions and contexts under which women are oppressed?
  • Are there any other minority groups in

S & E that are oppressed?

issues to consider iv
Issues to Consider IV
  • What are the solutions to oppression of minorities (females, in particular) in

S & E?

  • Are solutions actually needed? Maybe fewer women want S & E careers -- should there be 50-50 percentage rates?