Physicists Biographies

Charles Coulomb

Charles Coulomb was best known for determining the Law of Electric Force between charges, showing that it was similar to Newton’s Law of Universal Gravitation.

Coulomb is famous for having determined the Electric Force equation.
Charles Augustin de Coulomb was a physicist and inventor who was born in Angoulême, France, in June 1736. For a time, he devoted himself to military activity, working as an engineer in the West Indies. In that period, his hobby was solving and compressing problems related to Mechanics .

Coulomb’s research on Electricity and Magnetism was motivated by a competition held by the French Academy of Sciences for the manufacture of magnetized needles. In 1781, after his relevant contributions to Electricity and Electromagnetism and due to the large amount of published works, Coulomb became a member of the French Academy of Sciences.

Contributions to Physics

Coulomb devised a torsion balance to assess the magnetic force between magnetized bars. The balance he created is similar to that used by Cavendish to measure gravitational attraction.

Representation of the Coulomb torsion balance

Coulomb’s main contribution was on the law that determines the force of electrical interaction between charge-carrying materials . The so-called Coulomb’s law shows that the relationship of attraction and repulsion of electric charges is similar to the law of universal gravitation proposed by Isaac Newton.

In the equation:

E = force of electrical interaction between two charge carriers (N – newton);

1 and Q 2 = electric charges (C – coulomb);

d = distance between electrical charges (m);

K = electrical permittivity of the vacuum (k = 9.0 x 10 9 Nm 2 .C – 2 ).

Towards the end of his life, Coulomb resumed his work on magnetism and managed to define concepts related to magnetism. Charles Augustin de Coulomb died in Paris on August 23, 1806, at the age of 70.

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