René Just Haüy (French pronunciation: [aɥi]) FRS MWS FRSE (28 February 1743 – 3 June 1822) was a French mineralogist, commonly styled the Abbé Haüy after he was made an honorary canon of Notre Dame. He is often referred to as the "Father of Modern Crystallography."
Haüy was born at Saint-Just-en-Chaussée, in the département of Oise. His parents were of a humble rank of life, and were only enabled by the kindness of friends to send their son to the College of Navarre and later to the College of Lemoine. Haüy became an ordained Roman Catholic Priest. Becoming one of the teachers at Lemoine, he began to devote his leisure hours to the study of botany, but an accident directed his attention to another field in natural history. He happened to let fall a specimen of calcareous spar which belonged to a friend; examining the fragments, he was led to make experiments which resulted in the statement of the geometrical law of crystallization associated with his name.
The value of this discovery, the mathematical theory of which is given by Haüy in his Traité de minéralogie, was immediately recognized, and when communicated to the Academy, it secured for its author a place in that society. Haüy's name is also known for the observations he made in pyroelectricity.
When the Revolution broke out, Haüy was thrown into prison; he was in danger of losing his life until Étienne Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire interceded on his behalf. In 1802, under Napoleon, he became professor of mineralogy at the National Museum of Natural History and founder of the Musée de Minéralogie. In the same year he was visited by Martin van Marum, at that time curator of both the Teylers Museum and a director of the Hollandsche Maatschappij der Wetenschappen. Van Marum bought a set of pear-wood models from Haüy for the Teylers Museum and in return Haüy became a member of Van Marum's science society. After 1814 he was deprived of his appointments by the Restoration government. His final days were consequently clouded by poverty, but the courage and high moral qualities which had helped him in his youth did not desert him in his old age; he lived cheerful and respected till his death in Paris.
In 1821, he was elected a foreign member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. His name is one of the 72 names inscribed on the Eiffel Tower.
His brother was Valentin Haüy, the founder of the first school for the blind. The mineral Hauyne was named for Haüy and occurs in silica deficient igneous rocks in a wide variety of locations.
The following are Haüy's principal works:
- Essai d'une théorie sur la structure des crystaux (1784) via Gallica
- Exposition raisonné de la théorie de l'électricité et du magnétisme, d'après les principes d'Æpinus (1787) BNF
- De la structure considérée comme caractère distinctif des minéraux (1793)
- Exposition abrégé de la théorie de la structure des cristaux (1793) BNF
- Extrait d'un traité élémentaire de minéralogie (1797)
- Traité de minéralogie (5 vols, 1801) BNF: Vol 1 Vol 2 Vol 3 Vol 4 Vol 5
- Traité élémentaire de physique (2 vols 1803, 1806) Google Books
- Tableau comparatif des résultats de la cristallographie, et de l'analyse chimique relativement à la classification des minéraux (1809) BNF
- Traité des pierres précieuses (1817) BNF
- Traité de cristallographie (2 vols, 1822) Google Books
He also contributed papers, of which 100 are enumerated in the Royal Society's catalogue, to various scientific journals, especially the Journal de physique and the Annales du Museum d'Histoire Naturelle.