Mathematician:Marin Mersenne

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French theologian, philosopher, mathematician and music theorist.

Most famous for his work with Mersenne primes.

Claimed in $1644$ that the only primes $p \le 257$ for which $2^p - 1$ is prime are $2, 3, 5, 7, 13, 17, 19, 31, 67, 127$ and $257$. Considering the tools he had at his disposal, he was uncannily accurate.

The first to determine the speed of sound in air.

Founded the informal Académie Parisienne, in which he acted not only as the unofficial chairman, but also as the corresponding secretary.

Considered by many to be the "father of acoustics" from the work he did investigating the nature of sound.

The first to determine the frequency of a specific musical note.

The first to determine the speed of sound through air.




  • Born: September 8, 1588, Oizé in Maine, France
  • 17 July 1611: Joined the Minim Friars
  • 1613: Ordained a priest
  • 1614 -- 1618: Taught theology and philosophy at Nevers
  • 1620: Returned to Paris to settle at the convent of L'Annonciade
  • 1635: Established the Académie Parisienne
  • Died: September 1, 1648, Paris, France

Theorems and Definitions

Results named for Marin Mersenne can be found here.

Definitions of concepts named for Marin Mersenne can be found here.


  • 1623: Quaestiones celeberrimae in Genesim
  • 1623: L'usage de la raison
  • 1623: L'analyse de la vie spirituelle
  • 1624: L'Impieté des déistes
  • 1624: La Vérité des sciences
  • 1626: Synopsis mathematica
  • 1627: Harmonie Universelle
  • 1634: Questions inouyes
  • 1634: Questions harmoniques
  • 1644: Cogitata Physico-Mathematica
  • 1651: L'optique et la catoptrique (posthumous)

Critical View

There is more in Mersenne than in all the universities together.
-- Thomas Hobbes