Jean de Hautefeuille

Jean de Hautefeuille

Infobox Engineer

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name = Jean de Hautefeuille
nationality = French
birth_date = March 20 1647
birth_place = Orléans, France
death_date = October 18 1724
death_place = Orléans
education =
spouse =
parents =
children =
discipline = Horology
institutions =
practice_name =
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Jean de Hautefeuille (1647-1724) was a French abbé, physicist and inventor.


One of de Hautefeuille's most important achievements was his proposal to use a spiral spring with a balance wheel in place of a pendulum to control a clock. In the 1670s, he was involved in a dispute with Christian Huygens, who along with Robert Hooke claimed priority. Huygens is today generally credited with the invention as he managed to perfect it and the first watch using one was made under his direction. [cite web|url=|title=Brief History of Precision Timekeeping Part 1: Ancient Times to the 17th Century]

De Hautefeuille also conducted investigations in acoustics, looking into the action of speaking trumpets, and wrote an essay on the cause of echoes which was awarded a prize by the Academy of Bordeaux in 1718. He also made improvements in lenses, and suggested a method of raising water using the explosive action of gunpowder. He was also interested in the phenomenon of the tides, and invented an instrument called a thalassameter to register them. [cite encyclopedia | title = Jean de Hautefeuille | encyclopedia = The Catholic Encyclopedia | volume = VII | pages = | publisher = New York: Robert Appleton Company | date = 1910 | id = | accessdate = ]

In 1678 de Hautefeuille proposed an early form of internal combustion engine, which was to use gunpowder as a fuel, but it seems unlikely that any such machine was ever constructed by him. He was, however, the first person to propose the use of a piston in a heat engine. Huygens proposed a similar device two years later in 1680 based on de Hautefeuille's suggestion and appears to have constructed some form of prototype. [cite book | last = Thurston | first = Robert Henry | authorlink = Robert Henry Thurston | coauthors = | title = A History of the Growth of the Steam-Engine | publisher = D. Appleton and Company | date = 1878 | location = New York | pages = | url = | doi = | id = | isbn = ]

Though considered intelligent, de Hautefeuille rarely perfected his inventions, and was inclined to prematurely publish ideas and then abandon them in favour of new pursuits. The Paris Academy of Sciences attested the value and usefulness of many of his discoveries, but it never conferred on him the honour of electing him as a member. He was the author of a number of essays an a variety of subjects.


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