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June 2, 1962


JAMA. 1962;180(9):778-779. doi:10.1001/jama.1962.03050220070012

Antoine Laurent Lavoisier (1743-1794) began the chemical revolution contemporarily with the American Revolution and was himself finished by the French revolutionists on the guillotine five years after Bastille Day. The events that were associated with our Independence seem much closer in history than the rejection of the phlogiston theory and the replacement by Lavoisier of the scientific basis of specific chemical elements of combustion and the interchange of gases in the lungs. Lavoisier was born in Paris and studied at the Collège Mazarin where he gained a prize for rhetoric in general competition. His literary ambitions were complemented by interests in law, mathematics, botany, geology, chemistry, anatomy, and meteorology. Studies in anatomy and chemistry led him into speculation on respiration later in life, while an interest in meteorology was pursued intermittently until his death.

At the age of 25, Lavoisier entered the Ferme, a band of financiers who, for a

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