Exactly last Tuesday we celebrated Marin Mersenne’s birthday and I got quite excited by everything. So, Marin Mersenne, born on 8th September 1588, was a French theologian, philosopher, mathematician and music theorist. I believe most of you know about Mersenne primes and I have talked about them before (Mersenne Primes).
However, Mersenne was not primarily a mathematician; he wrote about music theory and other subjects. He edited works of Euclid, Apollonius, Archimedes, and other Greek mathematicians. But perhaps his most important contribution to the advance of learning was his extensive correspondence (in Latin) with mathematicians and other scientists in many countries. At a time when the scientific journal had not yet come into being, Mersenne was the centre of a network for exchange of information. It has been argued that Mersenne used his lack of mathematical specialty, his ties to the print world, his legal acumen, and his friendship with the French mathematician and philosopher René Descartes (1596–1650) to manifest his international network of mathematicians.
In later life, he gave up speculative thought and turned to scientific research, especially in mathematics, physics and astronomy. In this connection, his best known work is Traité de l’harmonie universelle (also referred to as Harmonie universelle) of 1636, dealing with the theory of music and musical instruments.
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