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Mydorge, Claude

1. Dates
Born: Paris, 1585
Died: Paris, July 1647
Dateinfo: Dates Certain
Lifespan: 62
2. Father
Occupation: Lawyer, Government Official
Mydorge belonged to one of France's richest and most illustrious families. His father was conseiller at the Parlement of Paris and Judge of the Grand Chambre. His mother was the sister of the "président Chrétien de Lamoignon."
3. Nationality
Birth: French
Career: French
Death: French
4. Education
Schooling: No University
5. Religion
Affiliation: Catholic
6. Scientific Disciplines
Primary: Mathematics, Optics
Subordinate: Astronomy
His work in geometry was directed to the study of conic sections. His work on the subject, first published in two volumes in 1631 and enlarged to four in 1639, was reprinted several times under the title De sectionibus conicis. His works on conic sections contain hundreds of problems published for the first time, as well as a multitude of ingenious and original methods that later geometers frequently used. According to Baillet, he succeeded Viète as the premier mathematician of his day.
He studied the properties and nature of light and refraction, and he studied vision.
He also carried out extensive astronomical observations.
7. Means of Support
Primary: Personal Means
Secondary: Government
He pursued a legal career. He was, first, conseiller at the Chatelet, then treasurer of the generalité of Amiens (which appears to have been nothing more than a title to hold).
Mydorge had such extensive personal means that he could afford to devote his activities to mathematics.
In 1613 he married the sister of La Haye, the French ambassador to Constantinople.
8. Patronage
Type: None
9. Technological Involvement
Types: Cartography, Navigation
He determined the latitude of Paris with great precision.
He was a member of the commission appointed to judge Morin's method of determining longitude.
10. Scientific Societies
Memberships: None
Intimate friendship with Descartes. Mydorge met Descartes about 1625 and became one of his most faithful friends. In 1627 Mydorge spent more than 100,000 ecus to make various lenses and optical instruments for Descartes, to aid him in his search for an explanation of vision. He also played a role in the reconciliation between Descartes and Fermat after 1638.
  1. Biographie universelle, 29, (Paris, 1860), 666. CT153.B6
  2. Nouvelle biographie générale, 37, 88.
  3. M. Cantor, Vorlesungen uber Geschichte der Mathematik, 2, (Leipzig, 1913), 673-4, 768-9. QA26.C2
  4. 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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