Gerolamo Cardano

Picture of Gerolamo Cardano

Date of Birth: 09/24/1501

Age: 74

Place of birth: Pavia

Citizenship: Italy


Born in Pavia, allegedly 24 September 1501. The son of Fazio Cardano, a prominent lawyer, mentioned by Leonardo da Vinci. In 1526 he graduated from the University of Padua, Gerolamo and tried to become a medical practitioner in a nearby town. However, he was an illegitimate child, and this hampered its admission to the College of Physicians. Cardano returned to Milan and began to lecture on mathematics. Then for a long time practiced in the province, and in 1539 it still took the College, specifically changing the rules for that reception. Cardano soon became rector of the College and the famous doctor. His studies in medicine he described in his autobiography. According to him, he developed methods for treating intractable diseases 5000, the number of allowed them to serious health problems came to 40 000, and smaller - 200 000. To these figures should not be taken too seriously, but the glory of Cardano doctor was certain: he was invited treat such nobles as the Scottish Hamilton Archbishop, Cardinal Maron, etc. Apparently, Cardano was an outstanding diagnostician, but, unlike Vesalius, did not pay much attention to the anatomy. Cardano himself in his autobiography, comparing himself with Hippocrates, Galen, Avicenna.

In his spare time, Cardano worked a variety of things: the horoscopes of the living and the dead (his services as an astrologer enjoyed the Pope), engaged in the interpretation of dreams, creating a variety of fantastic theories. Along with this he was interested and very serious subjects. Thus, his book about delicate matters (De subtilitate rerum) served as a popular textbook on statics and hydrostatics in just over 17 in. Cardano`s instructions on the use of self-pulse frequency for measurement of time was followed by Galileo. Cardano known arguments about creating a perpetual motion machine, the difference between the electric and magnetic attraction. Scientist engaged in experimental research and the construction of various mechanisms (known to all such detail as the propeller shaft). Cardano was an avid fan of gambling. "Byproduct" of his love for the game of dice was a book on gambling (De Ludo alea, 1563), containing the beginning of probability theory, the wording of the law of large numbers, some of the questions in combinatorics. His famous work in mathematics Great Art (Ars magna, 1545) has become a cornerstone of modern algebra. It made the first attempt to introduce a system of equations in the study, carried out some operations with imaginary numbers. In the same paper was first published method for solving equations of the third and fourth degrees (the solution of the fourth degree was found Cardano pupil Luigi Ferraris). Publication Ars magna caused famous battle Cardano relative priority in meeting this challenge with Niccolo Tartaglia, a lecturer from Venice. A method of solving cubic equations was found Scipio del Ferro of Bologna as early as 1515. In 1535 Tartaglia invented independently by its own method and reported him to Cardano, taking an oath to preserve the last discovery of a secret. However, Cardano published in his book, all known to him about the cubic equation, stating that he knew about the content of the earlier work of Ferro and it frees him from all obligations with respect to Tartaglia. In his book, published in 1546, Tartaglia Cardano accused of treachery. The lawsuit ended after a public debate in 1548, which represented the interests of Cardano Ferrari. About the dispute remained only a short record, but, apparently, Tartaglia suffered a crushing defeat.

The last years of his life were overshadowed by Cardano`s tragic events. His son, also a doctor in Milan, was executed in 1560 for poisoning an unfaithful wife. In 1562 Cardan was appointed professor at Bologna, where he was arrested by the Inquisition in 1570. What he was accused of, it is not known. The sentence was relatively mild, but he was forbidden to publish his writings. He spent the rest of his life in Rome, trying to achieve forgiveness. Cardano died in Rome on September 20, 1576.