The Pioneers

Jacques-Alexander César Charles 1746-1823

Jacques Charles was a mathematician and physicist remembered for his pioneering work with gases and hydrogen balloon flights.

Charles was born on November 12, 1746, in Beaugency, Loire, France; his first job was as a clerk at the Ministry of Finance in Paris. However, his interests eventually turned to science.

Although Charles is relatively unknown, both during his lifetime and currently, he made some contributions to science that he is remembered for.

He redesigned the way hot-air balloons were built. He invented the valve line which enables an operator to release gas from the balloon for an easy descent, the appendix, a tube that lets expanded gas out of the balloon, and the nacelle, a wicker basket that is held onto the balloon by a network of ropes and a wooden hoop. He also suggested the use of "inflammable" hydrogen instead of plain "hot-air".

His work with gases resulted in the forming of Charles' Law in 1787. Although his law is the thing he is probably most famous for, it wasn't published by him. 324

In 1766 the British scientist Henry Cavendish had isolated a gas that was 4 times lighter than air, hydrogen.

So with this evidence on the 27th of August 1783 Charles’ first balloon was released. The balloon was made of silk with a cover of rubber solution varnish to keep the hydrogen inside.

One of the spectators was the American Ambassador to France Benjamin Franklin who replied, when some one asked him of what possible use this new invention could have:

 “And of what use is a new-born baby?”

This discovery was of course the birth of human flight. He died in Paris on April 7, 1823.

Charles Law The volume of a gas equals a constant value multiplied by its temperature as measured on the Kelvin scale




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