She was a self-educated astronomer-mathematician in the 18th century. She maintained professional relations with Voltaire, Maupertuius, and others. She translated Leibnitz and Newton into French, adding her commentary and explanations of the difficult passages. Her translation of Newton into French is still the version in use. Voltaire (known for his misogyny) wrote of her
two wonders have been performed: one that Newton was able to write this work, the other that a woman could translate and explain it."
Her views on the vis viva (momentum) opposed those of Newton. Hers ultimately proved to be correct.
She wrote: "Judge me for my own merits, or lack of them, but do not look upon me as a mere appendage to this great general or that great scholar, this star that shines at the court of France or that famed author. I am in my own right a whole person, responsible to myself alone for all that I am, all that I say, all that I do. It may be that there are metaphysicians and philosophers whose learning is greater than mine, although I have not met them. Yet, they are but frail humans, too, and have their faults; so, when I add the sum total of my graces, I confess I am inferior to no one."
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