THE STUDY OF PHYSICAL PHENOMENA and the search for their explanation by mathematical models are intellectual activities whereby France has provided a major contribution to our knowledge of the material world surrounding us. We can cite the names of discoverers at random: Blaise Pascal, René Descartes, André Ampére, Charles Coulomb, Augustin Fresnel, Sadi Carnot; and, nearer our time: Pierre Curie, Paul Langevin, Louis de Broglie, Jean Perrin, Frédéric Joliot. Many modern inventions originated in France (for example, the metric system was introduced by the National Convention of 1972) and several international organizations (such as the International Bureau of Weights and Measures) have chosen headquarters in Paris.

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