Records from Coulomb's memoir, c 1884.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
French physicist Charles Augustin de Coulomb (1736-1806) is celebrated for his research into the properties of electricity and magnetism. He was one of the first to measure how electric charges behaved, by observing the attracting and repelling forces they exerted on wire. Coulomb experimented with friction, and invented the torsion balance for measuring the force of magnetic and electrical attraction. The coulomb, the unit of quantity used to measure current electricity, is named after him.