Emilie du Chatelet -Genius of Enlightenment

                                              By Ramana Annamraju - MedBricks


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This 18th-century woman is a sex bomb. Probably sex addict. Men did not use her. The other way around, she used them all. She treated men as sex objects. She said in her own words, "I will not invest a single minute of emotion with men". She gave full meaning to the French slang, 'manaja twa', staying with two lovers in the same house. Did I say she is also a gambling addict?. Indeed, she is blasphemous for the 17th-century religious institutions. Who is this woman?

If you ask that question, you have already failed. Not just you, We, humanity, failed. Religious zealots wanted her name to be wiped out from history. She was judged by her sexual behavior than her tremendous contributions to science. No wonder only a few women pursue science even now.­­



Her name is Gabrielle Émilie du Châtelet (1702-1749) born into a wealthy French aristocratic family. She is an enlightenment baby. The Enlightenment, also known as the Age of Reason, was an intellectual and cultural movement in the eighteenth century that emphasized reason over superstition and science over blind faith. She is an 18th-century physicist and mathematician. She confronted Newton and gave clues to Einstein.



Newton E= m v  

E stands for the energy, m is for the mass of an object -  v is for the velocity (speed) 

In the early 1700s, Newton's laws of moving bodies and their relation to energy are in their infancy. Initially, Newton described the energy (E) of a moving object is "Proportional" to its "Speed. (V). ( E proportional to V).




Emilie Du Chatelet, who is in her 20s, had an unbounded passion for science and mathematics. This was the time period, no woman was even allowed into scientific meetings. So on occasion, she used to dress as a man and slip into the meetings.

She did not agree with Newton's theory that the energy of an object is just proportional to its Speed. So she built a hiding place, château at Cirey in northeastern France, turned that into a base for her scientific research. She had amassed books on mathematics and physics. It is a library comparable to that of the Academy of Sciences in Paris. Money is not an issue for her family. She imported state-of-the-art equipment from London.


She came up with an ingenious idea with metal balls and sand to test the laws of Newton. She concluded that the energy of the moving object is not just proportional to its Speed as proposed by Newton, but it is proportional to the square of its Speed (E is proportional to V squared)


If a car moves at a "speed" of 20 miles/hr, the impact "energy" it produces is NOT 20 times, but it is 20 squared times, which is equal to astounding 400 times. She took on Newton, the most powerful man in sciences, and proved him wrong.



The world scientific community started noticing her. She got admitted into French: Académie des sciences ( French Academy of Science) is quite an exception. Germany's prestigious scientific journal published her works "The science of Fire and light" first-ever by a woman. Italy embraced her and admitted her to Italian scientific society. A woman in the scientific organization was unheard of in the 1700s; Du Chatelet is an exception, got the rare honors.

Einstein  E=m c^2


The idea of "squared" and its experimental validation was a significant milestone in the 1700s. After more than 200 years, Du Chatelet's "Squared" was plucked by Albert Einstein for his famous equation e=m C squared. Remind you C is the Speed of light like the Speed in Newton's law. If an Atom gets destroyed, the energy it releases is the Speed of light squared. The reason behind such a destructive force, "Square" of the 186,000 miles/sec, is the Speed of light.. The scientific community started noticing the connection between Einstein's famous equation and Emilie Du Chatelet's proof in recent years.

Though she is a rebel, she went through an arranged marriage. She was blessed with three children. She was a devout mother by all accounts despite her affairs.. She loved to teach math and science to her children. She even wrote a mathematics textbook for children. ( On the left Emillie Du Chatelet's own drawing) She spoke six different languages. Calculus was just introduced to the mathematical community. Calculus was dreadful even for seasoned mathematicians in the 1700s. She is the one girl who took on calculus and mastered it. Though she did not agree with Newton on everything, she generally admired him. By the way, Newton was still alive during her lifetime. She started translating Sir Isaac Newton's crown jewel of work, "Principia," into French, which is still a standard textbook in France today.

She got pregnant at the age of 43. It is almost a death sentence for women to get pregnant over 35 years of age for those days. She was aware of the threat of possible death. She gave birth to her fourth child. Within a week of giving birth, Emilie du Chatelet slumped on her desk and took her last breath. She was laying her head on top of the final pages of the French version of Principia. , Next to her new baby. She died on Sept 10th, 1749, with pulmonary embolism.


Atlanta native, screenplay writer Lauren Gunderson produced an award-winning play called Emilie: La Marquise Du Châtelet Defends Her Life Tonight on Emilie Du Châtelet with humor and a powerful ending.





Emilie du Chatelet's unwavering passion for mathematics and physics is bigger than her life itself. She stood between two giants of science, Sir Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein., Her name is Gabrielle Emilie Du Chatelet.

Now, you should know her name!!!!


To honor her we are releasing a T-shirt Please buy on E-commerce platforms







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