Emilie_Chatelet_portrait_by_Latour

Émilie du Châtelet (1796-1749):

A wealthy Paris socialite, Émilie du Châtelet defied cultural expectations for her sex by aggressively pursuing her studies of math, physics, and philosophy. Even after her marriage and the birth of her children, du Châtelet continued to study mathematics under the direction of Alexis Clairaut. In the 1730s, she began an affair with Voltaire, a relationship that appears to have been as much intellectual as it was sexual. Du Châtelet spent the last years of her life working on a translation of Sir Isaac Newton’s Principia Mathematica, which was published with a preface by Voltaire. It is still considered the standard French translation of Newton’s most famous work.

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