Jerome Cardan: A Biographical Study
Gerolamo Cardano or Girolamo Cardano (French Jerome Cardan, Latin Hieronymus Cardanus; 1501-1576) was an Italian Renaissance mathematician, physician, astrologer and gambler. Today, he is best known for his achievements in algebra. He published the solutions to the cubic and quartic equations in his 1545 book Ars Magna. Cardano invented several mechanical devices including the combination lock, the gimbal consisting of three concentric rings allowing a supported compass or gyroscope to rotate freely, and the Cardan shaft with universal joints, which allows the transmission of rotary motion at various angles and is used in vehicles to this day. He studied hypocycloids, published in De Proportionibus 1570. The generating circles of these hypocycloids were later named Cardano circles or cardanic circles and were used for the construction of the first high-speed printing presses. He made several contributions to hydrodynamics and held that perpetual motion is impossible, except in celestial bodies. He published two encyclopedias of natural science which contain a wide variety of inventions, facts, and occult superstitions. He also introduced the Cardan grille, a cryptographic tool, in 1550.
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