Erasmus Bartholin

Born: 13 Aug 1625 in Roskilde, Denmark
Died: 4 Nov 1698 in Copenhagen, Denmark

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Erasmus Bartholin studied in Holland, England, France and Italy. His first education was from private tutors, then he attended a Latin school. He entered the University of Copenhagen in 1642, receiving his B.A. in 1644 and an M.A. in 1647.

From 1645 he studied mathematics at Leiden, travelling to France in 1651 but then going to Italy where he studied at a number of places including Padua from where he received another degree in 1654. From 1656 he was professor of geometry and medicine at Copenhagen until his death. In 1667 he was appointed Royal Mathematician.

Bartholin edited Introduction to the geometry of Descartes by van Schooten and also translated Optics of Larissa into Latin.

Bartholin wrote a large number of mathematical works but he is best remembered for his discovery of the double refraction of light through a crystal of Iceland spar. He observed the comets of 1665, and made other astronomical observations, publishing his descriptions of these events. Bartholin also prepared for publication the observations of Tycho Brahe.

Bartholin is also famed for his medical work, in particular his introduction of quinine in the fight against malaria.

References (6 books/articles)

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JOC/EFR December 1996