Emilie du Chatelet

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Emilie du Chatelet

Emilie du Chatelet grew up in a society where there were not many

education opportunities for women. She was born in Paris on December 17,

1706 and grew up in a household where marriage was the only way one

could improve their place in society. During her early childhood, Emilie

began to show such promise in the area of academics that soon she was able

to convince her father that she was a genius who needed attention. Provided

with good education, she studied and soon mastered Latin, Italian and

English. She also studied Tasso, Virgil, Milton and other great scholars of

the time.

In spite of her talents in the area of languages, her true love was

mathematics. Her study in this area was encouraged be a family friend, M.

de Mezieres, who recognized her talent. Emilie's work in mathematics was

rarely original or as captivating as that of other female mathematicians but it

was substantive.

At the age of nineteen she married Marquis du Chatelet. During the

first two years of their marriage, Emilie gave birth to a boy and a girl, and

later at the age of 27 the birth of another son followed. Neither the children

or her husband deterred her from fully grasping and indulging in the social

life of the court.

Some of Emilie's most significant work came from the period she

spent with Voltaire, one of the most intriguing and brilliant scholars of this

time, at Cirey-sur-Blaise. For the two scholars this was a safe and quiet place

distant from the turbulence of Paris and court life. She started studying the

works of Leibniz but she then started to analyze the discoveries of Newton.

She was extremely success in translating his whole book on the principals of

mathematics into French.