- 1. Dates
- Born: Lagny-sur-Marne, 20 Aug 1677
- Died: cb
- Dateinfo: 83 2, Father: Gov A minor provincial official. No information on financial status.
- Lifespan: N/A
- 2. Father
- 3. Nationality
- Birth: Montlucon, France
- Career: France
- Death: Lagny-sur-Marne, France
- 4. Education
- Schooling: No University
- 5. Religion
- Affiliation: Catholic (assumed)
- 6. Scientific Disciplines
- Primary: Physics, Astronomy
- 7. Means of Support
- Primary: Government
- 1626, he became controleur de l'election in Montlucon.
- 1633, traveled to Paris where he was appointed commissaire provincial de l'artillerie and Ingenieur du roi, charged with visiting all the ports of France and Italy.
- 1642, he is listed as conseiller du roi, ingenieur du roi, and geographe du roi.
- 1649, he became Intendant General des Fortifications.
- 8. Patronage
- Types: Government Official, Court Official
- Petit's father was a minor provincial official. He resigned his post as controleur for his son's sake.
- Richelieu was directly responsible for his appointment in 1633.
- Louis XIV commissioned Petit to write a work on comets. Dissertation sur la nature des Cometes (1665) is dedicated to Louis.
- 9. Technological Involvement
- Types: Instruments, Military Engineering, Civil Engineering, Cartography
- His collection of telescopes and instruments was among the best in Paris. It included a filar micrometer, which Petit invented or developed, later used by Cassini I. There is debate as to whether Petit was independent of Auzout in this instrument.
- I assume some familiarity with military and civil engineering and cartography, based on the positions he held.
- 10. Scientific Societies
- Membership: Royal Society
- He was a member of the group of savants meeting at Mersenne's lodgings, and worked with or knew a large number of the scientists of the period. In 1646 he collaborated with Blaise Pascal repeating Torricelli's experiments on barometric vacuum [Pierre Humbert, L'oeuvre scientifique de Blaise Pascal (Paris, 1947), pp. 73 ff.]. A member of the Montmor academy, he was a forceful advocate for the establishment of an official scientific organization, but was passed over by Colbert in the initial selection of members of the Academie in 1666. As far as I know, he never was made a member. [see Harcourt Brown, Scientific Organizations in the Seventeenth Century (Baltimore, 1934), passim]
- He was a regular correspondent with Henry Oldenburg and played a central role facilitating the exchange of ideas between the two communities. He was elected a foreign fellow of the Royal Society in 1667.
- J. Michaud, Biographie universelle, 33 (Paris, 1823), 484-5 [CT153.B6].
- Piere Bayle, Grande Dictionnaire Historique..., 7 (Amsterdam, 1740), 151 [D9.M8 v.7]. Nouvelle biographie générale, 39, (Paris, 1863), cols. 709-10 [Lilly RR CT143.H7 1963 v. 39].
- Robert McKeon, "Les débuts de l'astronomie de precision," Physis, 13 (1971), 225-88; 14 (1972), 221-42; especially 13, 254-6 and 269-75.
- 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.