Copyright 1995 by Grolier Electronic Publishing, Inc.

Mersenne, Marin

{mair-sen', mah-ran'}

The French mathematician, theologian, and philosopher Marin Mersenne, b. Sept. 9, 1588, d. Sept 1, 1648, is best known for his role as a clearinghouse for correspondence between eminent philosophers and scientists. He belonged to the religious order of the Minims, and his cell in Paris furnished a meeting place for Fermat, Pascal, Gassendi, and others who later became the core of the French Academy. Mersenne defended Descartes and Galileo against theological criticism and struggled to expose the pseudosciences of alchemy and astrology. He continued some of Galileo's work in acoustics and stimulated some of Galileo's own later discoveries.

Catherine Wilson

Bibliography: Dear, Peter, Mersenne and the Learning of the Schools (1988).