Réaumur, René Antoine Ferchault de

views updated

René Antoine Ferchault de Réaumur (rā´əmyŏŏr, Fr. rənā´ äNtwän´ fĕrshō´ də rāōmür´), 1683–1757, French physicist and naturalist. He invented an alcohol thermometer (1731) and the Réaumur temperature scale, in which the freezing point of water is 0° and the boiling point 80°. In 1710 he directed the official description of arts and trades in France. He investigated gold-bearing rivers, turquoise mines, and forests. He did research on the composition of Chinese porcelain, which led him to develop an opaque glass, and on the composition and manufacture of iron and steel, including a means of tinning iron. As a naturalist he is best known for his exhaustive study of insects (6 vol., 1734–42; a 7th vol., part of the original manuscript, appeared in 1928); he also studied regeneration in crayfish and showed corals to be animals, not plants.