Mersenne, Marin

▪ French mathematicianIntroductionborn Sept. 8, 1588, near Oizé, Maine, Francedied Sept. 1, 1648, ParisFrench theologian, natural philosopher, and mathematician. While best remembered by mathematicians for his search for a formula to generate prime numbers based on what are now known as “Mersenne numbers,” his wider significance stems from his role as correspondent, publicizing and disseminating the work of some of the greatest thinkers of his age.Mersenne was educated at the Jesuit college of La Flèche soon after its founding in 1604. He left La Flèche about 1609 to study theology in Paris at both the Sorbonne (Paris I–XIII, Universities of) and the Collège de France (France, Collège de). In 1611 he entered the austere Roman Catholic Order of Minims (Minim), spending his novitiate at Nigeon and Meaux. From 1614 to 1618 he taught philosophy and theology at Nevers. He resided in Paris, except for frequent trips abroad, from 1619 until his death in 1648.Mersenne's earliest publications, such as Quaestiones celeberrime in Genesim (1623; “Frequent Questions Concerning Genesis”) and La vérité des sciences (1625; “The Truth of Science”), defended orthodox theology by distinguishing between the ultimate nature, or essence, of things (knowable only by God) and the contingent facts observable by man. He disagreed, however, with the views of Skepticism that the world is completely unknowable. He asserted that knowledge should freely advance through experiment and observation—frequently chiding scholars for not including accurate experimental data in their papers—while insisting that hypotheses are, at best, probable explanations. He also distinguished between a rational, indeed mechanistic (mechanism), natural world populated by living automatons (automaton) and a sentient humanity. From 1626 Mersenne's publications concentrated on applied mathematical sciences, such as astronomy and optics.In 1635 Mersenne formed the informal, private Académie Parisienne (the precursor to the French Academy of Sciences (Sciences, Academy of)), where many of the leading mathematicians and natural philosophers of France shared their research. He used this forum to disseminate the ideas of René Descartes (Descartes, René), who had moved to the Netherlands in 1629. He also assisted in the publication of Descartes's Discours de la méthode (1637; “Discourse on Method”) and took charge of soliciting the “Objections” appended to Descartes's Meditationes (1641; “Meditations”). Other luminaries that Mersenne corresponded with, promulgated the ideas of, and mediated disputes among include Galileo Galilei (Galileo), Blaise Pascal (Pascal, Blaise), Christiaan Huygens (Huygens, Christiaan), and Pierre de Fermat (Fermat, Pierre de). During the 1630s Mersenne was particularly important in promoting the work of Galileo. Through two small books and discussions of Galileo's work in his correspondence, Mersenne disseminated Galileo's ideas beyond Italy and greatly facilitated the acceptance of mechanical explanations against remnants of Scholasticism.In 1644 Mersenne communicated some research of his on numbers of the form 2^{n}−1, now known as Mersenne numbers. He observed that if 2^{n}−1 is prime, then n must be prime, but that the converse is not necessarily true. Although he failed to find a formula for primes (it is not certain that one even exists), Mersenne numbers continue to interest mathematicians, and his formula is still useful in testing large numbers to determine if they are prime.Mersenne made several lengthy trips to the Netherlands, provincial France, and Italy. From the latter excursion he brought back news to France in 1645 of the barometric experiment of Evangelista Torricelli (Torricelli, Evangelista), which led to the famous work of Pascal (Pascal, Blaise) on the weight of the air.Major WorksAmong Mersenne's many publications are Les méchaniques de Galilée (1634), the first published version of Galileo's early work; the multipart Harmonie universelle (1636–37), which discusses mechanics, as well as music theory and musical instruments; Les nouvelles pensées de Galilée (1639), a summary and discussion of Galileo's Discorsi (1638); and Cogitata physicomathematica (1644), on such topics as ballistics, mechanics, and music. His correspondence is now published as Correspondance du P. Marin Mersenne, religieux minime, 17 vol., ed. by Cornélis de Waard et al. (1932–88).Additional ReadingThe principal studies of Mersenne are Robert Lenoble, Mersenne; ou, la naissance du mécanisme (1943, reissued 1971); Peter Dear, Mersenne and the Learning of the Schools (1988); and Armand Beaulieu, Mersenne: le grand minime (1995).
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Universalium. 2010.
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Mersenne, Marin — • Article by C.A. Dubray reviewing the intellectual career of this learned Minim friar Catholic Encyclopedia. Kevin Knight. 2006 … Catholic encyclopedia
Mersenne, Marin — (1588 1648) (Abbé Mersenne) philosopher, scholar, cleric Born near oizé, Maine, Marin Mersenne, who had a collective view of, and dedicated himself to, science, favored exchanges between the scholars of his time, visiting and carrying on… … France. A reference guide from Renaissance to the Present
Mersenne, Marin — (1588–1648) A key figure of the French 17th century, Mersenne studied, like Descartes, at La Flèche, and subsequently taught in Nevers and Paris. Mersenne was a correspondent of all the great mathematicians and scientists of the time, and was… … Philosophy dictionary
Mersenne — Mersenne, Marin … Philosophy dictionary
Marin Mersenne — (* 8. September 1588 in Sountière bei Bourg d Oizé, Maine; † 1. September 1648 in Paris) war ein französischer Theologe, Mathematiker und Musiktheoretiker. Mersenne lernte 1604 bis 1609 am Jesuitenkolleg von L … Deutsch Wikipedia
Mersenne — Marin Mersenne Pour les articles homonymes, voir Marin. Marin Mersenne Marin Mersenne (8 septembre … Wikipédia en Français
Marin Mersenne — Marin Mersenne, Marin Mersennus o le Père Mersenne (8 de septiembre de 1588 1 de septiembre de 1648) fue un filósofo francés del siglo XVII que estudió diversos campos de la teología, matemáticas y la teoría musical. Contenido … Wikipedia Español
Marin Mersenne — Marin Mersenne † Catholic Encyclopedia ► Marin Mersenne French theologian, philosopher, and mathematician; b. 8 September, 1588, near Oizé (now Department of Sarthe); d. 1 September, 1648 at Paris. He studied at Le Mans and at the… … Catholic encyclopedia
MERSENNE (M.) — MERSENNE MARIN (1588 1648) Philosophe et religieux français, Mersenne est l’une des figures les plus influentes de la révolution scientifique du XVIIe siècle, au sein de laquelle, sans être proprement homme de science, il a joué un rôle… … Encyclopédie Universelle
Marin Mersenne — Marin Mersenne, Marin Mersennus o le Père Mersenne (8 de septiembre de 1588 1 de septiembre de 1648) fue un filósofo francés del siglo XVII que estudió diversos campos de la teología, matemáticas y la teoría musical … Enciclopedia Universal