Willebrord Snel van Royen was a 17thcentury Dutch astronomer and mathematician

@Astronomers, Timeline and Childhood

Willebrord Snel van Royen was a 17thcentury Dutch astronomer and mathematician

- Birthday: June 13, 1580
- Died on: October 30, 1626
- Nationality: Dutch
- Famous: Astronomers, Mathematicians, Scientists, Mathematicians, Astronomers
- Universities:
- Leiden University

- Discoveries / Inventions:
- Law Of Refraction

- Birth Place: Leiden, Dutch Republic

Willebrord Snell born at

Unsplash

Birth Place

He became romantically involved with Maria de Langhe, the daughter of Janneke Symons and Laurens Adriaens de Langhe, a burgomaster of Schoonhoven, and married her in August 1608.

Unsplash

Personal Life

The two were blessed with aroundseven children. Some sources state that he had around 18 children as suggested by thestatement at his funeral oration. But this has been dismissed by several historians. Unfortunately, of the eight children that he had, only three of them survived to adulthood.

Unsplash

Personal Life

In 1626 he fell very sick from colic and reputed medical doctors were consulted. However the medication provided by them was not helping him recuperate from his illness. As a result of colic he developed a high fever which paralysed his arms and legs.

Unsplash

Personal Life

Willebrord Snell was born at Leiden in Netherlands. The exact date of his birth continues to remain ambiguous to several historians. It is believed that he was born around 1580.

Unsplash

Childhood & Early Life

He was born to the successful professor of mathematics at the University of Leiden, Rudolph Snel van Royen and the affluent, Machteld Cornelisdochter, who named him after his paternal grandfather.

Unsplash

Childhood & Early Life

He was the eldest of three siblings. His brothers were Jacob, who died in 1599 at the age of 16 and the other Hendrik, who died in his childhood.

Unsplash

Childhood & Early Life

As a learned professor, Rudolph Snell ran his own private school near the university. It was in that school itself where Snell received his education. His father taught him Latin, Greek and philosophy.

Unsplash

Childhood & Early Life

Apart from this, he received no other formal education. Rudolph encouraged his son to lean towards law, but since he was greatly influenced by his father, Snell was more inclined towards mathematics. With his ardent love for the subject, he became a private student of Ludolph Van Ceulen, the renowned German mathematician.

Unsplash

Childhood & Early Life

From 1600 onwards he travelled to various European countries, mostly learning astronomy. He visited Adriaan van Roomen in Wurzburg.After spending a while there, the two mathematicians went to Prague where he was introduced to Tycho Brahe.

Unsplash

Early Career

He also spent quite a deal of time with Brahe, assisting him in making observations and thus he gained much knowledge during this visit. The lofty knowledge attained working with Brahe ended when Brahe died in 1601. During this visit he also got to know Johannes Kepler who was Brahe's assistant at that time.

Unsplash

Early Career

In 1603 he went to Paris where his studies of law continued but he kept in touch with numerous mathematicians, continuing to pursue findings and making observations. After this visit he gave up the study of law and returned to Leiden.

Unsplash

Early Career

Willebrord Snell began his career assisting his father in teaching mathematics at the University of Leiden when his father’s health began to deteriorate. The duo made a wonderful pair, aiding each other as professors for several years.

Unsplash

Early Career

Until 1609, he was not an official professor and had only taken over his father’s lectures during his ailment. Slowly he was given daily lectures in the afternoon and was also provided an additional payment for the same.

Unsplash

Early Career

In 1615, Snell was drawn towards geometry and the dimensions of the earth and thus, decided to carry out a new method of finding out the radius of the planet. He concluded that by the means of ‘triangulation’ he would determine the distance of one point on the earth’s surface from the parallel latitude of another point.

Unsplash

Interest in Geometry

He published the results of this research in a famous book, ‘Eratosthenes Batavus’ in 1617. He faced difficulty completing his work until Sterrenberg took over and finished it with his assistance. ‘Eratosthenes Batavus’ is considered one of Snell’s gifts to modern geodesy.

Unsplash

Interest in Geometry

He was vital in the revival of the works of Apollonius on the subject of ‘plane loci’ and also of the works of Pappus. He republished the works of these two great mathematicians under the title ‘The Revived Geometry of Cutting off of a Ration and Cutting off of an Area.’ He continued to research on the works of Apollonius and published a reconstruction called ‘Apollonius Batavus

Unsplash

Interest in Geometry

He faced a financial struggle after the death of his father. Even though he was given the chair of his father, he was not paid sufficiently for it. He received a higher salary in February 1614 but was still receiving only a third of the salary of other professors.

Unsplash

Interest in Geometry

He was made a full professor of mathematics in February 1615 but his salary had still not seen a significant raise. Slowly, he did receive minor increments but it was onlyin 1618 that he received a salary which he considered the decent amount for his position.

Unsplash

Interest in Geometry