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René Descartes’ Contributions to Science
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Wallis writes There seems little to justify Wallis's claim, which was probably made partly through partiotism but also through his just desires to give Harriot more credit for his work.

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Harriot's work on equations, however, may indeed have influenced Descartes who always claimed, clearly falsely, that nothing in his work was influenced by the work of others. Descartes' Meditations on First Philosophy , was published in , designed for the philosopher and for the theologian. However many scientists were opposed to Descartes' ideas including Arnauld, Hobbes and Gassendi.

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The most comprehensive of Descartes' works, Principia Philosophiae was published in Amsterdam in This is an important point of view and was to point the way forward. Descartes did not believe in action at a distance. Therefore, given this, there could be no vacuum around the Earth otherwise there was way that forces could be transferred. In many ways Descartes's theory, where forces work through contact, is more satisfactory than the mysterious effect of gravity acting at a distance.

Rene Descartes

However Descartes' mechanics leaves much to be desired. He assumes that the universe is filled with matter which, due to some initial motion, has settled down into a system of vortices which carry the sun, the stars, the planets and comets in their paths. Despite the problems with the vortex theory it was championed in France for nearly one hundred years even after Newton showed it was impossible as a dynamical system.

As Brewster, one of Newton's 19th century biographers, puts it:- Thus entrenched as the Cartesian system was The uninstructed mind could not readily admit the idea that the great masses of the planets were suspended in empty space, and retained their orbits by an invisible influence Pleasing as Descartes's theory was even the supporters of his natural philosophy, such as the Cambridge metaphysical theologian Henry More, found objections. Certainly More admired Descartes, writing:- I should look upon Des-Cartes as a man most truly inspired in the knowledge of Nature, than any that have professed themselves so these sixteen hundred years However between and they exchanged a number of letters in which More made some telling objections, Descartes however in his replies making no concessions to More's points.

More went on to ask:- Why are not your vortices in the form of columns or cylinders rather than ellipses, since any point of the axis of a vortex is as it were a centre from which the celestial matter recedes with, as far as I can see, a wholly constant impetus? Who causes all the planets not to revolve in one plane the plane of the ecliptic?

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And the Moon itself, neither in the plane of the Earth's equator nor in a plane parallel to this? In , the year his Meditations were published, Descartes visited France.

He returned again in , when he met Pascal and argued with him that a vacuum could not exist, and then again in However the Queen wanted to draw tangents at 5 a. After only a few months in the cold northern climate, walking to the palace for 5 o'clock every morning, he died of pneumonia. Recommended For You. About engineering. Discourse on the Method contains the best known philosophical statement of Rene Descartes, i.

He further explained this statement as if he doubted, then something or someone must be doing the doubting ; therefore the very fact that he doubted proved his existence. This proposition went on to become a fundamental element of Western philosophy. This was because it formed a secure foundation for knowledge in the face of radical doubt.

The Life of Rene’ Descartes: His Works and His Beliefs in God

It was published in as one of the appendices of Discourse on the Method. He thus invented the Cartesian coordinate system , which forms the foundation of analytic geometry. It also provides geometric interpretations for other branches of mathematics, such as linear algebra, complex analysis, differential geometry, multivariate calculus, group theory and more.

Analytic geometry, also known as Cartesian geometry after Rene Descartes, is the study of geometry using the Cartesian coordinate system. It allowed for the first time the conversion of geometry into algebra; and vice versa. Any algebraic equation can be represented on the Cartesian plane by plotting on it the solution set of the equation. Also, it allows transforming geometric shapes into algebraic equations. Analytic geometry is widely used in physics and engineering, and also in aviation, rocketry, space science and spaceflight. It is the foundation of most modern fields of geometry , including algebraic, differential, discrete and computational geometry.

He is widely considered as the father of analytic geometry. Analytic geometry of Descartes laid the foundation for the development of calculus by Isaac Newton and Gottfried Leibniz. It also unlocked the possibility of navigating geometries of higher dimensions. Thus, the work of Descartes in mathematics transformed the field forever.

Rene Descartes

Apart from analytic geometry, Descartes developed his rule of signs , a technique for determining the number of positive or negative real roots of a polynomial. He was also the first to use a standard notation for the superscripts to denote powers , that is he was the first to denote the variable x-squared as x 2. Amicable numbers are two different numbers so related that the sum of the proper divisors of each is equal to the other number.

Rene Descartes independently discovered the general formula for amicable numbers. Rene Descartes contributed significantly to the development of modern physics.

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Most importantly, he provided the first distinctly modern formulation of laws of nature. Apart from these laws, Descartes discovered an early form of the law of conservation of mechanical momentum. He also made important contributions to the field of optics, primarily through his treatise Dioptrique. He used it to show that the angular radius of a rainbow is 42 degrees.

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