Beeckman, Isaac [key], 1588–1637, Dutch physicist. An early proponent of mathematical reasoning and experimental verification in natural philosophy, he contributed to the modern conception of inertia and free fall and discovered an important hydrodynamic law concerning the rate of flow of water from a vessel. Although his recorded scientific work is largely confined to his Journael (diary) and notes, he influenced scientific development through his personal acquaintance with such famous contemporaries as René Descartes, Pierre Gassendi, and Marin Mersenne, and through his rectorship of the Latin school at Dordrecht.
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