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Réaumur, René-Antoine Ferchault de

french studying soon naturalist

[rayohmür] (1683–1757) French technologist and naturalist: pioneer entomologist.

A member of the lesser nobility, Réaumur was probably educated by the Jesuits before studying law; but soon he was attracted to mathematics and then to metallurgy and biology. From 1713, he had the huge task of compiling an encyclopedia of technology, commissioned by Colbert (Louis XIV’s finance minister) and intended to aid French industry. Soon he was engaged in studying iron and steel making, porcelain and thermometry. His researches in these areas were of value to his successors, rather than to his contemporaries.

His lasting fame rests on his work as a naturalist, where he worked on molluscs and especially on insects. His work on bees was particularly detailed. He also wrote on regeneration in hydra and in marine animals, and he showed that digestion is a chemical process. In all these matters, his work did much to spur research by others. He inherited a castle in 1755, but 2 years later had a fatal fall from his horse.

Röntgen, Wilhelm Konrad [next]

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