By Olaf Pedersen
The Almagest, by way of the Greek astronomer and mathematician Ptolemy, is an important surviving treatise on early mathematical astronomy, supplying historians priceless perception into the astronomy and arithmetic of the traditional world.
Pedersen's 1974 ebook, A Survey of the Almagest, is the newest in an extended culture of partners to the Almagest. half paraphrase and half statement, Pedersen's paintings has earned the common compliment of historians and serves because the definitive introductory textual content for college students drawn to learning the Almagest.
during this revised version, Alexander Jones, a uncommon authority at the background of early astronomy, offers supplementary details and statement to the unique textual content to account for scholarship that has seemed considering that 1974. This revision additionally contains a number of corrections to Pedersen's unique textual content which have been pointed out due to the fact that its publication.
This quantity is meant to supply scholars of the background of astronomy with a self-contained creation to the Almagest, aiding them to appreciate and take pleasure in Ptolemy's nice and classical paintings.
Read or Download A Survey of the Almagest: With Annotation and New Commentary by Alexander Jones (Sources and Studies in the History of Mathematics and Physical Sciences) PDF
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Extra resources for A Survey of the Almagest: With Annotation and New Commentary by Alexander Jones (Sources and Studies in the History of Mathematics and Physical Sciences)
Aristotle had refuted this idea by means of his doctrine of natural motion: no substance has more than one natural motion (De caelo i, 2, 269 a), and since that of earth and other heavy particles is towards the centre of the world, it follows that the Earth as a whole cannot have a natural tendency to move sideways. It is interesting that here Ptolemy has a quite different argument based on the physical notion of pressure. As already mentioned, all matter is supposed to consist of molecules 43 (page 37).
He is silent about how calculations are carried out, in so far as he presupposes the whole technique of calculation without any attempt at stating general rules or methods; yet the Almagest abounds in calculations of an often very intricate nature. This gives the work a particular importance. On the one hand it denies the statement, commonly found in historical expositions, that Greek mathematics consciously neglected numerical methods in favour of purely geometrical procedures. On the other hand it confirms the general impression that for some reason or other Greek mathematicians dealt only reluctantly with such questions in the form offormal, explicit treatises.
Such relations a mathematical astronomer like Ptolemy had to deal with, and one of the most fascinating but least investigated mathematical aspects of the Almagest is the rudimentary 'theory of function' which can be extracted from its pages. In the remaining part of this chapter we shall try to give an impression of all the points on which the Almagest is of interest to the history of mathematics. A complete exposition exhausting the subject is out of the question; but at least a glimpse of Ptolemy's true claim to be remembered as a mathematician will be substantiated in the following.
A Survey of the Almagest: With Annotation and New Commentary by Alexander Jones (Sources and Studies in the History of Mathematics and Physical Sciences) by Olaf Pedersen