14 Apr, 2021

Christian Huygens – mathematician, physicist, astronomer

Christian Huygens was born in The Hague on April 14, 1629. He was educated at the universities of Leiden and Breda. In 1665-1681 he lived in Paris, from 1681 – in The Hague.

Huygens began his scientific career with the development of classical problems in mathematics: theorems on the quadrature of the hyperbola, ellipse and circle, on the size of the circle. He also clarified the meaning of pi. In 1657, the first major work on the theory of probability, “On Calculations in Gambling”, was completed.

Huygens became famous for the creation of the pendulum clock in 1658. He invented a trigger mechanism, thanks to which the watch went without fading. From that time on, he became interested in the problems of mechanics. In 1673 he published a major scientific work “The Swinging Clock, or the Motion of a Pendulum”.

Engaged in optics, Huygens improved the lens of a lens telescope, invented an eyepiece named after him (“Huygens’ eyepiece”), and also invented a device for measuring small angles – a micrometer.

Having constructed a 24-foot telescope, Huygens discovered the ring of Saturn and its moon Titan, calculated the period of revolution of the satellite around Saturn. He also discovered polar caps on Mars and stripes on Jupiter.

In 1680 Huygens began work on the so-called “planetary machine”, which simulated the movement of celestial bodies.

Huygens died in his hometown on July 8, 1695.