Jacques Charles 1746 - 1823
Charles was born on November 12, 1746 in Beaugency, France. When he was
young, he received an education that had very little science involved.
He learned only basic mathematics, and hardly any practical science.
When he was young, he moved to Paris and worked at the Bureau of
Finances. In the year 1779, Benjamin Franklin visited Paris as an
ambassador for the newly created United States of America. Charles
learned about Franklin's scientific experiments, and was impressed
enough to begin learning about nonmathematical, experimental physics.
In 1781 after only a year and a half of studying, he began giving
public lectures on the things he had learned. Charles was named a
resident member of the Académie des Sciences (Science Adcademy)
on November 20, 1795. He was also professor of experimental physics at
the Conservatoire des Arts et Métiers (Conservatory of Arts and
Careers), librarian for the Institute, and he was president of the
class of experimental physics at the Académie from 1816.
Although Charles is
relatively unknown, both during his lifetime and currently, he made
some contributions to science that he is remembered for. He redesigned
the way hot-air balloons were built. He invented the valve line
which enables an operator to release gas from the balloon for an easy
descent, the appendix, a tube that lets expanded gas out of the
balloon, and the nacelle, a wicker basket that is held onto the
balloon by a network of ropes and a wooden hoop. He also suggested the
use of "inflammable" hydrogen instead of plain "hot-air". His work with
gases resulted in the forming of Charles' Law in 1787. Although his law
is the thing he is probably most famous for, it wasn't published by
him. It was published about fifteen years later by Joseph Gay-Lussac.
Frenchman, Jacques Charles invented the first hydrogen balloon in 1783.
Less than two weeks after the ground-breaking Montgolfier flight, the
French physicist Jacques Charles and Nicolas Robert
(1758-1820) made the first un-tethered ascension with a gas hydrogen
balloon on December 1, 1783. Jacques Charles combined his expertise in
making hydrogen with Nicolas Robert's new method of coating silk with
The Charlière hydrogen
balloon exceeded the earlier Montgolfier hot air balloon in time in the
air and distance travelled. With its wicker gondola, netting, and
valve-and-ballast system, it became the definitive form of the hydrogen
balloon for the next 200 years. The audience in the Tuileries Gardens
was reported as 400,000, half the population of Paris.
The limitation of
using hot air was balloons was that when the air in the balloon cooled,
the balloon was forced to descend. If a fire was kept burning to warm
the air constantly, sparks were likely to reach the bag and set it
afire. Hydrogen overcame this obstacle.