This paper stresses that studying the lives of Mathematicians leads to interesting insight into not only their personal lives and the original details of their theories. The origin of many mathematical ideas and theories often reveal important influences…
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Father Marin Mersenne was himself very influential in the lives of many intellectuals, and instrumental in furthering the new mathematical approach and scientific thinking in general. However, it is precisely this scientific thinking that impelled him to promote it, and the need to defend his theology.
Father Marin Mersenne was a contemporary of the mathematicians Thomas Harriot, Blaise Pascal and Isaac Newton, being older than the last two but died when Newton was a child. He was also a close friend of Descartes and Fermat. In fact, he was in touch with many other mathematicians as well such as Roberval, Torricelli, Desargues, and Huygens. This is because of his role for serving “as a clearinghouse for mathematical information” through correspondence and meetings. It was also his extensive travels that enabled him to act as the prominent channel of communication, which included Rome. It is said, “when Mersenne knew something, the whole of the ‘Republic of Letters’ was shortly informed about it”. Consequently, much of the unity in mathematical interests at the time is attributable to Mersenne.
His own famous contribution to Mathematics was a development of the ‘Mercenne numbers’ that are primes of the form 2p-1 where p is itself a prime; important to number theory (Selkirk, 1992:34). In addition, he inspired the invention of the pendulum clock. However, Father Marin Mersenne was most influential in disseminating the mathematical ideas of others. For example, it was due to Mersenne that Galileo’s ideas on the path of a falling object on a rotating earth were widely discussed in France.
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