“Passionate Minds” is a book about female French scientist and mathematician Emilie du Chatelet and her love affair with French wordsmith Voltaire.

Great love affair of the enlightenment era

Science and math have been regarded as areas where men dominate. But history did not lack outstanding female scientists and mathematicians.

For example, many people would talk about Marie Curie, Ada Lovelace, Cecilia Payne, and Lynn Margulis. And here is one more, a French mathematician and scientist Emilie du Chatelet.

“Passionate Minds” is a book about Chatelet, who translated Isaac Newton’s 1687 magnum opus “Principia” to French and put precious commentaries for later scientists in the early 16th century.

In consideration of the fact that she began studying mathematics seriously at age 27 and died at the age of 42 due to complications during childbirth, all the achievements were done in just 15 years.

And she is also famous for her long-lasting love affair with Voltaire, the French enlightenment writer whose real name is Francois-Marie Arouet.

Science author David Bodanis, who is known for his steady seller “E=mc2 (see the Korea News Plus article on July 12, 2022),” delves into the life of Chatelet and her relationship with Voltaire.

The book also deals with the theories, which they worked on together, in such areas as theology, the nature of the universe, and life.

“The research she did on what later became termed the conservation of energy was crucial here, and the squared in Einstein’s famous equation E=mc2 came, in fact, directly from her work,” Bodanis said.

One last thing about the book. The two stayed together around a decade and Voltaire never left Chatelet to the last minute, although her unborn baby was not his. When she died, he said, “I’ve lost the half of myself _ a soul for which mine was made.”

That reminds the remarks of former President Kim Dae-jung, who lamented the tragic 2009 suicide of his successor Roh Moo-hyun, “I feel as though half of my body had collapsed away.”