As a leading member of the Académie Royale des Sciences, he was also required to take an informed and active interest in whatever was topical—hypnotism, prison reform, the respiration of insects, the water supply of Paris. It was in such a capacity in 1780 that Lavoisier made some dismissive remarks about a new theory of combustion that had been submitted to the academy by a hopeful young scientist. The theory was indeed wrong, but the scientist never forgave him. His name was Jean-Paul Marat.
The one thing Lavoisier never did was discover an element. At a time when it seemed as if almost anybody with a beaker, a flame, and some interesting powders could discover something new—and when, not incidentally, some two-thirds of the elements were yet to be found—Lavoisier failed to uncover a single one. It certainly wasn't for want of beakers. Lavoisier had thirteen thousand of them in what was, to an almost preposterous degree, the finest private laboratory in existence.
Instead he took the discoveries of others and made sense of them. He threw out phlogiston and mephitic airs. He identified oxygen and hydrogen for what they were and gave them both their modern names. In short, he helped to bring rigor, clarity, and method to chemistry.