Sunday, March 12, 2017


In 1651, the Flemish Jesuit priest André Tacquet (23 June 1612 Antwerp – ibid. 22 December 1660) published Cylindricorum et annularium libri IV (Four Books on Cilinders and Rings), an important mathematical work dealing with the geometrical features of cilinders and rings and their applications.

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Taquet entered the Jesuit Order in 1629 and quickly established himself as a brilliant mathematician whose works were translated in English and Italian. It is a pity that the Jesuits, despite having produced a considerable number of excellent scientist and mathematicians, were so unyielding in their opposition of the Method of the Indivisibles, a novel theory promoted by, a.o., Bonaventura Cavalieri in Italy and John Wallis in England. Taquet's Cylindricorum... does give a nod to indivisibles, but he was quickly rebuffed by the Jesuit Superior General, Goswin Nickel. In time however, the Theory of Indivisibles would lead to the calculus method, described by both Newton and Leibniz. And without calculus modern engineering and technology would simply be unthinkable. Highly recommended reading in this respect is Amir Alexander's book Infinitesimal.

Be that as it may, Cylindricorum et annularium libri IV remains an seminal work which influenced, a.o., the French mathematician Blaise Pascal.


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