Charles Augustin de Coulomb

Charles Augustin Coulomb's father was Henry Coulomb and his mother was Catherine Bajet.

Both his parents came from families which were well known in their fields. His father's family were important in the legal profession and in the administration of the Languedoc region of France, and his mother's family were also quite wealthy. After being brought up in Angoulême, the capital of Angoumois in southwestern France, Coulomb's family moved to Paris. In Paris he entered the Collège Mazarin, where he received a good classical grounding in language, literature, and philosophy, and he received the best available teaching in mathematics, astronomy,chemistry and botany.

At this stage in his education there was a crisis for Coulomb. Despite his father's good standing, he had made unsuccessful financial speculations, had lost all his money and moved from Paris to Montpellier. Coulomb's mother remained in Paris but Coulomb had a disagreement with her over the direction his career should take so he left Paris and went to Montpellier to live with his father. At this stage Coulomb's interests were mainly in mathematics and astronomy and while in Montpellier he joined the Society of Sciences there in March 1757 andr ead several papers on these topics to the Society.

Coulomb wanted to enter the École du Génie at Mézières but realised that to succeed in passing the entrance examinations he needed to be tutored. In October 1758 he went to Paris to receive the tutoring necessary to take the examinations. Camus had been appointed as examiner for artillery schools in 1755 and it was his Cours de mathématiques that Coulomb studied for several months. In 1758 Coulomb took the examinations set by Camus which he passed and he entered the École du Génie at Mézières in February 1760. He formed a number of important friendships around this time which were important in his later scientific work, one with Bossut who was his teacher at Mézières and the other with Borda.

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Author: J J O'Connor and E F Robertson

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Keywords: Coulomb,Military Engineer,Fortifications


J J O'Connor and E F Robertson

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