Gerolamo Cardano  

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Cardan believ'd great states depend
Upon the tip o'th' Bear's tail's end;
That, as she wisk'd it t'wards the Sun,
Strew'd mighty empires up and down;
Which others say must needs be false,
Because your true bears have no tails.

--Hudibras (1663, 1664 and 1678) by Samuel Butler

Related e



Gerolamo Cardano (1501– 1576) was an Italian polymath and writer, whose interests ranged through those of mathematician, physician, biologist, physicist, chemist, astrologer, astronomer, philosopher, writer, and gambler.

He was one of the most influential mathematicians of the Renaissance, and was one of the key figures in the foundation of probability. He wrote more than 200 works on science.

Cardano partially invented and described several mechanical devices including the combination lock, the gimbal and the Cardan shaft. He made significant contributions to hypocycloids, published in De proportionibus, in 1570. The generating circles of these hypocycloids were later named Cardano circles or cardanic circles and were used for the construction of the first high-speed printing presses.

Today, he is well known for his achievements in algebra. In his 1545 book Ars Magna, he made the first systematic use of negative numbers in Europe, published and acknowledged the existence of imaginary numbers.


  • De malo recentiorum medicorum medendi usu libellus, Hieronymus Scotus, Venice, 1536 (on medicine).
  • Practica arithmetice et mensurandi singularis (on mathematics), Io. Antoninus Castellioneus/Bernadino Caluscho, Milan, 1539.
  • De Consolatione, Libri tres, Hieronymus Scotus, Venice, 1542.
  • Libelli duo: De Supplemento Almanach; De Restitutione temporum et motuum coelestium; Item Geniturae LXVII insignes casibus et fortuna, cum expositione, Iohan. Petreius, Norimbergae, 1543.
  • De Sapientia, Libri quinque, Iohan. Petreius, Norimbergae, 1544 (with De Consolatione reprint and De Libris Propriis, book I).* De Immortalitate animorum, Henric Petreius, Nuremberg 1544/Sebastianus Gryphius, Lyons, 1545.
  • Contradicentium medicorum (on medicine), Hieronymus Scotus, Venetijs, 1545.
  • Artis magnae, sive de regulis algebraicis (on algebra: also known as Ars magna), Iohan. Petreius, Nuremberg, 1545.
  • Della Natura de Principii e Regole Musicale, ca 1546 (on music theory: in Italian): posthumously published.
  • De Subtilitate rerum (on natural phenomena), Johann Petreius, Nuremberg, 1550 .
    • Translation into English by J.M. Forrester (2013).
  • Metoposcopia libris tredecim, et octingentis faciei humanae eiconibus complexa (on physiognomy), written 1550 (published posthumously by Thomas Jolly, Paris (Lutetiae Parisiorum), 1658).
  • In Cl. Ptolemaei Pelusiensis IIII, De Astrorum judiciis... libros commentaria: cum eiusdem De Genituris libro, Henrichus Petri, Basle, 1554.
  • Geniturarum Exemplar (De Genituris liber, separate printing), Theobaldus Paganus, Lyons, 1555.
  • Ars Curandi Parva (written c. 1556).
  • De Libris propriis (about the books he has written, and his successes in medical work), Gulielmus Rouillius, Leiden, 1557.
  • De Rerum varietate, Libri XVII (on natural phenomena); (Revised edition), Matthaeus Vincentius, Avignon 1558.
  • Actio prima in calumniatorem (reply to J.C. Scaliger), 1557.
  • De Utilitate ex adversis capienda, Libri IIII (on the uses of adversity), Henrich Petri, Basle, 1561.
  • Theonoston, seu De Tranquilitate, 1561. (Opera, Vol. II).
  • Somniorum synesiorum omnis generis insomnia explicantes, Libri IIII (Book of Dreams: with other writings), Henricus Petri, Basle 1562.
  • Neronis encomium (a life of Nero), Basle, 1562.
  • De Providentia ex anni constitutione, Alexander Benaccius, Bononiae, 1563.
  • De Methodo medendi, Paris, In Aedibus Rouillii, 1565.
  • De Causis, signis ac locis morborum, Liber unus, Alexander Benatius, Bononiae, 1569.
  • Commentarii in Hippocratis Coi Prognostica, Opus Divinum; Commentarii De Aere, aquis et locis opus, Henric Petrina Officina, Basel, 1568/1570.
  • Opus novum, De Proportionibus numerorum, motuum, ponderum, sonorum, aliarumque rerum mensurandarum. Item de aliza regula, Henric Petrina, Basel, 1570.
  • Opus novum, cunctis De Sanitate tuenda, Libri quattuor, Sebastian HenricPetri, Basle, 1569.
  • De Vita propria, 1576 (autobiography).
  • Liber De Ludo aleae ("On Casting the Die"; on probability): posthumously published.
  • Proxeneta, seu De Prudentia Civili (posthumously published: Paulus Marceau, Geneva, 1630).

Pages linking in as of 2022

16th century, Abraham de Moivre, Agostino Scilla, Alessandro De Angelis, Algebra, Algebraic equation, Algebraic geometry, Al-Kindi, Anthony Grafton, Antiquarian science books, Antonio Balducci, Aristotle's wheel paradox, Ars Conjectandi, Ars Magna (Cardano book), Asimov's Biographical Encyclopedia of Science and Technology, Astrology, Autobiography, Blaise Pascal, Blow book, Bone conduction, Camera obscura, Cardano, Catalan navy, Centiloquium, Christian views on astrology, Christopher Polhem, Classical definition of probability, Combination lock, Complex number, Connections (British documentary), Constant-velocity joint, Continuous uniform distribution, Conversion disorder, Cornelius Gemma, Cubic equation, Culture of Italy, Determinant, Dominique Phinot, Drive shaft, Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford, Electric charge, Embryology, Euler angles, Fazio Cardano, Florence Nightingale David, Francesco Cigalini, François Viète, Galois theory, Game theory, Gaspare Tagliacozzi, Gilet (card game), Gimbal, Giovan Battista Bellaso, Grammatical Man, Grand Albert, Grille (cryptography), Henry Morley, Hieronymus, History of Western civilization, Human extinction, Hylozoism, Hypnagogia, Hypocycloid, Imaginary number, Inclined plane, Islamic world contributions to Medieval Europe, Italians, Italophilia, Italy, Jabir ibn Aflah, Jean Bodin, Jean Pestré, Jewels of Mary, Queen of Scots, Jimmy Page, Jofrancus Offusius, Johannes Petreius, John Cheke, John Dee, John Hamilton (archbishop of St Andrews), Julius Caesar Scaliger, Lamarckism, Law of large numbers, Leonhard Thurneysser, L'huomo di lettere, Library of Sir Thomas Browne, Lichtenberg's Avertissement, Lodovico Ferrari, Lombardy, Lucilio Vanini, Magic square, Mary Finsterer, Mathematician, Mathematician, Matrix (mathematics), Mechanical puzzle, Meteorology, Metoposcopy, Michele Mercati, Mohr–Mascheroni theorem, Negative number, Nero, New Latin, Niccolò Fontana Tartaglia, Nicolas Gombert, Ninian Cockburn, Number, Octavia (play), Odds, Omar Khayyam, One Two Three... Infinity, Orazio Grassi, Oxford Calculators, Øystein Ore, Painted frieze of the Bodleian Library, Palace of Monimail, Pangenesis, Panpsychism, Pascal's triangle, Pavia, Petit Albert, Pierre de Fermat, Plato's number, Poker probability, Poncelet–Steiner theorem, Portuense, Posca, Primero, Probability theory, Probability, Quadratic equation, Quartic equation, Quartic function, Rafael Bombelli, Recorder (musical instrument), Regiomontanus, René Descartes, Richard Swineshead, Roman Inquisition, Sappho, Sator Square, Science and technology in Europe, Science and technology in France, Science and technology in Italy, Science and technology of the Song dynasty, Science in the Renaissance, Scientific phenomena named after people, Scientist, Scientist, Scipione del Ferro, Seneca the Younger, Significant Figures (book), Simon Stevin, Spherical geometry, Square root, Statistics, Steller's sea ape, Stochastic process, Straight line mechanism, Symmetric group, Tadeáš Hájek, Taraxippus, Tetrabiblos, The Last Supper (Leonardo), The Mathematics of Games and Gambling, The Museum of Curiosity, The Search (TV series), Theory of equations, Thomas Bedingfield (d. 1613), Thomas Thomson (apothecary), Trappola, Tusi couple, Universal joint, Valentin Naboth, Vitruvius, Why Beauty Is Truth, Witches' Sabbath, Wittenberg interpretation of Copernicus

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