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Amontons, Guillaume

1. Dates
Born: Paris, 31 Aug. 1663
Died: Paris, 11 Oct. 1705
Dateinfo: Dates Certain
Lifespan: 42
2. Father
Occupation: Lawyer
His father was a lawyer from Normandy who settled in Paris.
No information on financial status.
3. Nationality
Birth: Paris, France
Career: France
Death: Paris, France
4. Education
Schooling: No University
Amontons studied physical sciences, mathematics, and celestial mechanics. He also studied drawing, surveying, architecture.
5. Religion
Affiliation: Catholic (assumed)
6. Scientific Disciplines
Primary: Mechanics, Instrumentation
Published his only book, Remarques et experiences physiques sur la construction d'une nouvelle clepsydre (Paris, 1695), and many papers.
Main contributions are made in experimental physics and scientific instruments.
7. Means of Support
Primary: Government
He was employed on various public works projects.
He became a member of the Académie.
8. Patronage
Type: Scientist
Amontons tried out his optical telegraph in the presence of the royal family sometime between 1688 and 1695. There is no evidence that anything came of this.
He dedicated his only book, Remarques & experiences physiques sur la construction d'une nouvelle clepsydre, sur les barometres, thermometres, & hydrometres, to the Académie des Sciences.
He was proposed as a member of the Académie by LeFévre.
9. Technological Involvement
Types: Instruments, Civil Engineering, Navigation, Mechanical Devices
Hygrometer, 1687.
Optical telegraph, 1688-1695. I am listing this under Civil Engineering.
Cisternless barameter, 1695.
Air themometer independent of the atmospheric pressure, 1695.
Thermic motor, 1699.
He proposed that his Clepsydra could be used to keep time at sea.
10. Scientific Societies
Membership: Académie des Sciences
He was one of the membre premier titulaire of the reformed Académie in 1690. He was "elevated" by the astronomer LeFévre.
  1. Maurice Daumas, Les instruments scientifique aux XVIIe et XVIIIe siecles, (Paris, 1953). Q185 .D24. No biographical information.
  2. Bernard le Bovier de Frontenelle, "Eloge de M. Amontons" in Histoire de l'Academie Royale des Sciences (1705), pp. 189-94.
  3. Académie des Sciences, Index biographique de l'Académie des Sciences, (Paris: Gauthier-Villars, 1979), p. 106.
Compiled by:
Richard S. Westfall
Department of History and Philosophy of Science
Indiana University
Note: the creators of the Galileo Project and this catalogue cannot answer email on geneological questions.
©1995 Al Van Helden
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