Charles Augustin Coulomb

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During the life of Charles Augustin Coulomb, he would play important roles in the developments in physics, engineering, and experimental instruments. Coulomb was born in 1736 in the Languedoc region of France, but spent much of his early life in Paris and Montpellier. In 1760, at the age of 24 he was accepted into Ecole du Genie, an army engineering school in France. Once he was completed with school, he was first deployed to Brest as a military engineer. In 1764 he was sent to Martinique in the West Indies. There he was put in charge of building the new Fort Bourbon to attempt to make the island more secure. While in the West Indies, Coulomb would demonstrate his engineering skills and technical knowledge which he would later recall in his memoirs.

The weather of Martinique was not hospitable to Coulomb, with him being ill much of his tour of duty. After nine years he was forced to return to France because these health issues.

Upon returning to France Coulomb would take an interest in the recent research concerning electricity. Which would eventually lead to the development of the torsion balance and the discovery of the relation which would become known as Coulomb's Law.

When Coulomb began his research into electric force (which would become known as Coulomb's law), Newton's law of universal gravitation had already discovered. As it would turn out electrical forces would parallel Newton's discovery in many ways. With both Coulomb's law and Newton's law of universal gravitation being proportional to inverse squared relationships.

Coulomb's work would become one of the first cases where electric charge was measured quantitatively. In the 1740's electricity was beginning to become well know. By the 1750's, Benjamin Franklin's had shown that lightning was an electrical phenomenon thereby proving that that electricity did exist in nature. Franklin's work became an inspiration to others and spawned research into the study of electricity and measurement of it.

Instruments which could indicate electricity had existed since the 1730's, however these tools did not approach real qualitative measurements. John Canton introduced an improved electrical indicator in 1753. Others such as Tiberius Cavallo of Italy concentrated their efforts atmospheric electricity, producing tools which could indicate the presence of electricity, but were a long way from quantitative measurements.

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