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Mouton, Gabriel

1. Dates
Born: Lyons, 1618
Died: Lyons, 28 Sept. 1694
Dateinfo: Dates Certain
Lifespan: 76
2. Father
Occupation: No Information
No information on financial status.
3. Nationality
Birth: French
Career: French
Death: French
4. Education
Schooling: Lyons, DD
Before 1646 he obtained his doctorate in theology in Lyons. During his leisure time he studied mathematics and astronomy, rapidly acquiring a certain renown in the city.
5. Religion
Affiliation: Catholic
At four years of age he entered St. Paul's Church in Lyons as an enfant choeur. After taking holy orders he became vicaire perpetuel at St. Paul's Church. He is buried at the chapel there. He spent his whole life in Lyons fulfilling his clerical duties.
6. Scientific Disciplines
Primary: Mathematics, Astronomy
Mouton was a pioneer in research on natural and practical units of measurement. His Observationes diametrorum solis et lunae apparentium (1670) was the fruit of his astronomical observations and certain computational procedures he had developed. Mouton proposed to deduce the length of a terrestrial meridian from the variations of the length of a pendulum. A fraction of the terrestrial meridian would be adopted as the universal unit of length. The measuring procedures at the time were too unsatisfactory. The topic wouldn't be taken up again until 1790.
He determined with astronomical accuracy the apparent diameter of the sun at apogee.
7. Means of Support
Primary: Church Life
Spent whole life in Lyons fulfilling his clerical duties.
8. Patronage
Type: None
9. Technological Involvement
Types: Applied Mathematics, Instruments
He presented a very pratical computational device for completing ordered tables of numbers when the law of formation was known.
He constructed an astronomical pendulum remarkable for its precision.
10. Scientific Societies
Membership: Non
  1. Michaud, Biographie générale.
  2. Hoefer, Nouvelle biographie générale, (Paris, 1857-66).
  3. P. Humbert, "Les astronomes françaises de 1610 à 1667," Bulletin de la Société d'études scientifiques et archéologiques de Draguignan et du Var, 42 (1942), pp. 5-72.
Compiled by:
Richard S. Westfall
Department of History and Philosophy of Science
Indiana University

Note: the creators of the Galileo Project and this catalogue cannot answer email on geneological questions.

©1995 Al Van Helden
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