SHEILA TERRY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY SHEILA TERRY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Rene Descartes. Engraving of the French mathematician and philosopher Rene Descartes (1596-1650), also known by the latinized name Renatus Cartesius. His most important scientific works were in mathematics. Descartes created analytical or co-ordinate geometry, known as Cartesian geometry, in which geometrical problems are converted into algebraic forms so that algebraic techniques may be applied to their solution. He attempted to explain planetary motions in terms of vortices surrounding the Sun, but his theory was later refuted. He is also considered the father of modern philosophy, and coined the phrase "I think, therefore I am".
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