Edme Mariotte c. 1620 (Til-Châtel, France) – 12 May 1684 (Paris, France)
Edme Mariotte was a french scientist and Abbé who was born the youngest son of Simon Mariotte, administrator at the district Til-Châtel (†16 Augustus 1652), and Catherine Denisot (†26 September 1636 due to plague). His parents lived in Til-Châtel and had 4 other children: Jean, Denise, Claude, and Catharine. Jean was administrator in the Parlement of Paris from 1630 till his death in 1682. Denise and Claude, both married, stayed in the Dijon region, where as Catharine married Blaise de Beaubrieul, advisor of king Louis de XIV. Catherine and Blaise lived in the same street 16, perhaps on the same address, where Jean lived. The early life of Edme Mariotte is unknown. His title "Sieur de Chazeuil" was probably inherited from his brother Jean in 1682. It refers to the estate of his father, which was first given to Jean. This estate was in the region Chazeuil. It is not clear whether Mariotte spent most of his early life at Dijon, and whether he was prior of St Martin sous Beaune. There are no references to confirm this. In 1668 Colbert invited Mariotte to participate in the "l'Académie des Sciences", the French equivalence of the Royal Society. From that time on he published several articles.
In 1670 Mariotte moved to Paris. The address on a letter found in the Leibniz archive shows that Edme lived in the rue de Bertin-Poirree, near the chapel of the guild of the goldsmiths in the rue des Orfevres in 1677. Perhaps he lived together with Jean and the couple Catherine and Blaise de Beaubreuil. Leibniz wrote that Edme stayed at Mr. Beaubrun's address, but probably he meant Beaubreuil, which sounds quite similar. Edme quit the Academy in 1681 and died on the 12th of May 1684.
Mariotte is best known for his recognition in 1679 of Boyle's law about the inverse relationship of volume and pressures in gases. In 1660 he had discovered the eye's blind spot. A small coin placed in the blind spot disappears from vision, a seemingly magical event that amazed the French royal court when first presented by Mariotte. He was one of the first members of the French Academy of Sciences founded at Paris in 1666.
The first volume of the Histoire et mémoires de l'Académie (1733) contains many original papers by him upon a great variety of physical subjects, such as the motion of fluids, the nature of colour, the notes of the trumpet, the barometer, the fall of bodies, the recoil of guns, the freezing of water etc. His Essais de physique, four in number, of which the first three were published at Paris between 1676 and 1679, are his most important works, and form, together with a Traité de la percussion des corps, the first volume of the Œuvres de Mariotte (2 vols., Leiden, 1717). The second of these essays (De la nature de l'air) contains the statement of the law that the volume of a gas varies inversely as the pressure, which, though very generally called by the name of Mariotte, had been discovered in 1662 by Robert Boyle. The fourth essay is a systematic treatment of the nature of colour, with a description of many curious experiments and a discussion of the rainbow, halos, parhelia, diffraction, and the more purely physiological phenomena of colour. He also made a significant contribution to the development of aerodynamic theory with the statement that aerodynamic resistance varies as the square of the velocity. The discovery of the blind spot is noted in a short paper in the second volume of his collected works.
His Traité du mouvement des eaux et des autres corps fluides was published posthumously. Mariotte took the position that rainfall was more than adequate not only to supply water for springs and rivers, but also for groundwater recharge by means of infiltration. Mariotte developed an understanding of infiltration and hillslope processes, recognizing that soil type and restricting layers play significant roles in soil infiltration. By quantifying spring flow decreases during drier periods, Mariotte experimentally showed that flow fluctuations in springs are directly related to precipitation regimes. Mariotte further supported his conclusions by measuring total annual rainfall at Dijon (43 cm), the results of which he compared to the previous findings of Perrault (~48cm). Finding his estimates in close agreement with those of Perrault, he chose a conservative value of 38 cm for his calculations. Even with 38 cm of precipitation, Marriotte could show quantifiably that there was ample rainfall to support river and spring flow, as well as infiltration.
Mariotte measured the velocity of flow in the Seine River. He noted that a float, placed at the river’s greatest depth, had a velocity similar to that of a man walking quickly on the bank, approximately 76 m/min. He recognized that neither the bottom nor the middle of the river would flow as quickly as the top, being subject to friction, so he assumed a mean velocity of 30.5 m/min. Using these relationships, Mariotte estimated that the total annual discharge of Montmartre spring (feeding the river Seine) was about one quarter the depth of annual precipitation (Biswas, 1970).
Later, Mariotte recognized velocity estimations needed to account for buoyancy. Mariotte recognized that an object used for a float test (i.e., velocity of an object floating downstream) needed to submerge as deeply as possible without sinking below the surface to reduce the effect of wind. He described the calculation of flow simply as the product of the breadth of the channel, the depth of the water, and the velocity as determined by the float test, noting that such a calculation assumed velocity to be the same throughout the water column. Mariotte addressed this problem by documenting that the water surface has the same general slope as the channel bed (Biswas, 1970), a critical determinant of velocity and flow. Then, using interconnected differentially weighted floats to demonstrate the difference between surface and streambed velocities, Mariotte empirically estimated a mean velocity that was two-thirds the surface velocity. He noted slower bed velocities would be the rule unless a localized channel constriction physically raised the water and created an immediate and steep declivity resulting in higher streambed velocities.
The Mariotte bottle is a device that delivers a constant rate of flow from closed bottles or tanks. It is named after French physicist Edme Mariotte (1620-1684). A picture of a bottle with a gas inlet is shown in the works of Mariotte, but this construction was made to show the effect of outside pressure on mercury level inside the bottle. It further misses a siphon or an outlet for the liquid. The design to provide a constant flow rate was first reported by McCarthy (1934).
McCarthy, E.L., 1934. Mariotte's Bottle. Science, 80:100.
Biswas, A K, 1970, History of Hydrology, North-Holland, Amsterdam
Traité du mouvement des eaux et des autres corps fluides, divisé en V parties, par feu M. Mariotte, mis en lumière par les soins de M. de La Hire (1686)
Œuvres de Mariotte (2 volumes, 1717). Réédition : J. Peyroux, Bordeaux, 2001. Texte en ligne
Discours de la nature de l'air, de la végétation des plantes. Nouvelle découverte touchant la vue, Gauthier-Villars, Paris, 1923.