The Biographical Encyclopedia of Astronomers

2007 Edition
| Editors: Thomas Hockey, Virginia Trimble, Thomas R. Williams, Katherine Bracher, Richard A. Jarrell, Jordan D. MarchéII, F. Jamil Ragep, JoAnn Palmeri, Marvin Bolt

Kauffman, Nicolaus

  • Ian T. Durham
Reference work entry

Bornpossibly (Schleswig‐Holstein, Germany), 1619

DiedParis, France, 14 January 1687

Usually remembered for his work on navigation, Nicolaus Mercator, primarily a mathematician and astronomer, is not the Mercator for whom the map projection is named (Gerardus Mercator). He was born Nicolaus Kauffman to Martin Kauffman, a schoolmaster at Oldenburg in Holstein. No information is available about Mercator's mother or why he changed his name. Although his father worked in Holstein, there is no evidence confirming Mercator's birth there; some evidence points to Denmark as his birthplace. Raised Lutheran, which speaks of his youth in Germany, Mercator spent much of his career in England and later died in France. It is most likely that Mercator began work at his father's school. In 1632 he graduated from the University of Rostock and received an M.Phil. from the same institution in 1641. He also spent time studying at the University of Leiden. Mercator joined the philosophy faculty at...

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Selected References

  1. Bell, E. T. (1937). Men of Mathematics. New York: Simon and Schuster.zbMATHGoogle Scholar
  2. Muir, Hazel (ed.) (1994). “Mercator.” In Larousse Dictionary of Scientists, p. 354. New York: Larousse.Google Scholar
  3. Smith, David Eugene. (1923). History of Mathematics. Vol. 1. Boston: Ginn and Co. (Reprint: New York: Dover, 1958).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC. 2007

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  • Ian T. Durham

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