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HISTORY OF MATHEMATICS – LECTURE 11 – WEDNESDAY 13 TH OCTOBER Marin Mersenne Although knowledgeable about mathematics and physics, Marin Mersenne (1588 1648) was a French monk whose fame rests on the fact that he was the first to organize regular correspondence between the leading scientists of the day. By sharing ideas amongst the group, Mersenne fulfilled the role that a research journal has today, and his list of contributors included Fermat, Huygens, Pell, Galileo, Descartes, and Pascal. He also organized conferences at his monastery in Paris, even though most religious leaders of the day were adamantly opposed to the prevailing scientific thought, in particular Galileo’s theories concerning the earth revolving around the sun. These conferences continued even after the death of Mersenne, and led to the foundation of the prestigious Royal Society in 1660, and the Acad é mie des Sciences in 1666. The Royal Society The Royal Society of London for the Improvement of Natural Knowledge, known simply as the Royal Society, is the oldest scientific society in the world, founded shortly after the restoration of the monarchy in England. Its founding members included the architect Christopher Wren and the physicist Robert Boyle, and the list of former presidents includes Samuel Pepys, Isaac Newton, and Ernest Rutherford. The Latin motto of the society, Nullis in Verba (take nobody’s word), is indicative of their commitment to scientific truth, and the many journals that are published by the Royal Society are renowned for their scholarship. The first president of the Royal Society was William (Lord) Brouncker, who did significant work regarding
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lecture11 -...

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