Why Was Antoine Lavoisier's Contribution Important?

Antoine Lavoisier, an 18th century French nobleman, was a critical force in the development of both modern chemistry and biology. His efforts proved vital toward understanding chemistry in particular as a quantitative science, as well as for identifying the role of major gases in chemical processes. Consequently, he is regarded by many as the "father of modern chemistry."

Lavoisier was a firm believer in the systematic use of weights and measures in chemical study, positing that mass, as represented by weight, could not be compromised despite chemical reactions and changes in state. Thus, Lavoisier is one of the first proponents of the now widely accepted law regarding the conservation of mass. Lavoisier went on to discover the role that oxygen played within the combustion process. In this particular case, he opposed the now-discredited phogiston theory, which argued that combustion was caused by a fire-like element hidden within certain substances. He also offered the first scientific recognition of the gases oxygen and hydrogen, in 1778 and 1783 respectively. Lavoisier ultimately created a list of 33 substances he classified as elements, or substances that could not be broken down further into simpler elements. This conceptually anticipated the contents and creation of the periodic table. Lavoisier also offered what may be the first modern chemistry text, "Traité Élémentaire de chimie," which he published in 1789. Additionally, he launched the first chemistry research journal or periodical as well.