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Essay

  • Submitted by: renwick
  • on September 21, 2012
  • Category: Miscellaneous
  • Length: 601 words

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Below is a free excerpt of "Essay" from Anti Essays, your source for free research papers, essays, and term paper examples.

COULOMB, CHARLES-AUGUSTIN DE (1736–1806), one of France's greatest engineers, who also made major contributions to the field of physics. Not only did he establish "Coulomb's laws"—by showing experimentally that the force between two electric charges, and similarly between two magnetic poles, is inversely proportional to the square of the distance between them—he played a key role more generally in the transformation of physics in the years around 1800 from a qualitative science into a quantitative, mathematical one. Coulomb was born at Angoulême on 14 June 1736, the son of a petty government official. After studying for a time in Paris and in Montpellier, he was briefly an adjunct member of the mathematical section of the Montpellier Academy of Sciences before entering the best engineering school in Europe, the École du génie at Mézières, in 1760. Upon graduation in November 1761, he became an officer in the French army's engineering corps.

Coulomb spent the years from 1764 to 1772 in the French West Indian colony of Martinique, successfully supervising the construction of major new fortifications to replace those destroyed by the British during the Seven Years' War. A series of postings followed in France itself, during which Coulomb had sufficient free time to write up his analyses of various traditional problems in structural mechanics, building on his experiences in Martinique. His paper created a very favorable impression when he presented it to the Académie Royale des Sciences in Paris in 1773, and in the following year he was appointed a correspondant (corresponding member) of the academy.

In his paper, Coulomb studied the role of friction and cohesion in several traditional problems of structural engineering. His analyses, in which he pioneered the use of variational calculus in engineering theory, were a significant advance over anything that had been previously achieved. He arrived at general solutions that, as more engineers became familiar with...

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