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Born Sept. 8, 1588, in Oizé, Maine; died Sept. 1, 1648, in Paris. French physicist.
Mersenne was educated in a Jesuit school and subsequently entered the Order of St. Francis. He lived in the order’s monasteries, where he taught philosophy and theology. Mersenne studied various physical phenomena, and his most significant works dealt with musical acoustics. He was the first to determine the propagation velocity of sound in the atmosphere. He also proposed a scheme for a reflecting telescope. Mersenne conducted an extensive correspondence with prominent scientists of his day, including Galileo, R. Descartes, C. Huygens, B. Pascal, E. Torricelli, P. de Fermat, and P. Gassendi. This correspondence promoted the dissemination and discussion of scientific discoveries and the establishment of contacts between scientists.
WORKSTraité de l’harmonie universelle, oú est contenue la musique theorique et pratique des anciens et modernes. Paris, 1627.
Correspondance du P. Marin Mersenne Réligieux minime, vols. 1–11. Published by Mme Paul Tannery. Paris, 1932–70.