Nicolas Léonard Sadi Carnot

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Nicolas Léonard Sadi Carnot (1 June 1796 – 24 August 1832) was a French physicist and military engineer who, in his 1824 Reflections on the Motive Power of Fire, gave the first successful theoretical account of heat engines, now known as the Carnot cycle, thereby laying the foundations of the second law of thermodynamics. He is often described as the "Father of thermodynamics", being responsible for such concepts as Carnot efficiency, Carnot theorem, Carnot heat engine, and others.



Born in Paris, Sadi Carnot was the first son of the eminent military leader and geometer, Lazare Nicholas Marguerite Carnot, elder brother of Hippolyte Carnot, and uncle of Marie François Sadi Carnot (President of the French Republic (1887-1894), son of Hippolyte Carnot). His father named him for the Persian poet Sadi of Shiraz (Carnot 1960, p. xi), and he was always known by this third given name.

From age 16 (1812), he lived in Paris and attended the École polytechnique where he and his contemporaries, Claude-Louis Navier and Gaspard-Gustave Coriolis, were taught by professors such as Joseph Louis Gay-Lussac, Siméon Denis Poisson and André-Marie Ampère. After graduation, he became an officer in the French army before committing himself to scientific research, becoming the most celebrated of Fourier's contemporaries who were interested in the theory of heat. Since 1814, he served in the military. Following the final defeat of Napoleon in 1815, his father went into exile. He later obtained permanent leave of absence from the French army. Subsequently, he spent time to write his book.

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