Almagest: Vol. V, Issue 2
Table of contents and abstracts, Almagest, 5-2, November 2014
Thematic issue: Scientific cosmopolitanism
George N. Vlahakis
Scientific Cosmopolitanism. An Introduction
Suzanne Débarbat, Simone Dumont
Johann Karl Buckhardt, un Allemand de Gotha à Paris
Johann Karl Burckhardt est depuis 1796 auprès de Franz Xaver von Zach, à l’observatoire du Seeberg, lorsque ce dernier l’envoie à Paris se former chez Lalande. En dépit des événements de l’époque, il se plaît en France et bientôt se fait naturaliser et y poursuit sa carrière. Il entre successivement au Bureau des longitudes et à l’Académie des sciences, observe et habite l’observatoire de l’Ecole militaire ; il traduit en allemand deux volumes de la Mécanique céleste de Laplace, publie plusieurs ouvrages, des articles, des Tables de la Lune, consacre à des calculs, notamment pour des trajectoires de comètes ou de petites planètes, la plus grande partie de ses travaux astronomiques. Né en Allemagne, il devient, sous le nom de Jean-Charles Burckhardt (1773-1825), très connu aussi bien en France que dans son pays natal.
Cosmopolitan Oscar Buneman (1913-1993): his serpentine path from Milan to Stanford
Oscar Buneman (1913 Milan, Italy- 1993 near Stanford, USA) was born to a cosmopolitan mercantile family of Hamburg, Germany. He crossed many borders of states forced by political circumstances first (WWI, the Nazis, WWII) and by his own decisions later on. He changed his citizenship to British in 1944 and his name some years later. He also crossed borders between scientific disciplines: he started as a student of (pure) mathematics and physics in Hamburg and took exams in (applied) mathematics and theoretical physics in Manchester. For several years he worked as a university lecturer of mathematics at Cambridge University and became a Professor of Electrical Engineering at Stanford University later in his life, heading an Institute for Plasma Research there. He spent sabbatical years at institutes for cosmic physics/space research in Italy and Japan. Stanford students thought that he was British by birth, but in his private life he was a Californian outdoors person. He considered mathematical elegance a very important issue. He and his wife Ruth were very concerned about environmental issues.
Between cosmopolitanism and nationalism. The role of expatriates in the dissemination of Leibniz’s differential calculus
In contrast to Isaac Newton’s method of fluxions, the early propagation and application of Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz’s differential calculus appeared to be very much a European affair. The mathematical correspondents of Leibniz were living in Italy, France, Switzerland and the Netherlands. However, this first impression is deceptive. Besides Jacob Bernoulli in Basel two more correspondents were German speaking: Rudolf Christian von Bodenhausen in Florence and Johann Bernoulli in Groningen in the Netherlands. Indeed, among the most fervent early supporters of Leibniz’s calculus, Guillaume François Antoine de L’Hospital in Paris was the only not self-identifying as German. The aim of this article is to study the interaction of the expatriates Bodenhausen and Johann Bernoulli with their new local communities and to exhibit how it relates to their scientific activities in general and their partisanship for the differential calculus in particular. In addition, I will highlight the fate of the Swiss Nicolas Fatio de Duillier, who was an ardent supporter of Newton’s method of fluxions and who lived in England for most of his life. Particular attention will be paid to the role of nationality and nationalism, which conflicted with the cosmopolitan idea of the Republic of Letters.
Dawn of the New Enlightenment
This paper concerns scientific cosmopolitanism and how it connects with the Enlightenment in the classical and new sense in an interesting way. The focus is on two educators who were affiliated with the University of Tartu (Dorpat) at different times and in different ways, Sven Dimberg in the late 17th century and Georges Frédéric Parrot in the late 18th-early 19th century, the latter actually being responsible for the reopening of the university. It was actually Parrot who brought Enlightenment to Livonia, a province of the Russian Empire back then. Both men, a Swede and a Frenchman, are responsible for bringing the University of Tartu to the map of the academic world. The first of these remarkable men, Sven Dimberg, was one of the first, if not the very first, to teach Newton’s method at a university. The other one made some original discoveries in chemistry and founded a new type of university in the region. Above all, we are currently witnessing the need for a “New” Enlightenment, as advocated by Nicholas Maxwell. Analysing Parrot’s ideas will be helpful in making sense of this need.
The unsolved equation: Mathematics at the University of Athens during the 19th century
At the University of Athens (founded in 1837), we see the first efforts towards the systematic teaching of Mathematics at a higher level, within the limited space of the newly formed Greek state ‒ limited as regards both land area and intellectual development.
Throughout the 19th century Mathematics and Natural Sciences were taught in the corresponding Departments, which were under the umbrella of the School of Philosophy until the definitive separation of the School of Physics and Mathematics in 1904. This fact naturally posed many difficulties in finding the appropriate teaching staff for the Departments and developing the subjects taught.
In this paper we will examine the history of Mathematics teaching at the University of Athens during the hundred years following the Greek Revolution, until the first decades of the 20th century. More specifically, we will comment on the course of the School of Sciences and the Department of Mathematics till their independence from the School of Philosophy in 1904. We will investigate the course contents and the mathematical textbooks used by the professors of the University K. Negris, G. Vouris, N. Nikolaides, V. Lakon, I. Chatzidakis and C. Stephanos. We will then proceed to examine the interest shown by high-school students and others in studying at the Department of Mathematics and we will make a brief reference to the admission and attendance of female students at the Department of Mathematics. Finally, by the end of our study we hope to have provided a historically acceptable solution to the equation of our title ‒ although some of the mathematicians discussed here would have disputed it, since we will not have arrived there by using their favourite instruments, the rule and compass.
Carlos M. Madrid Casado
The Depiction of Science in the Paintings of the Museo del Prado. Science and Art in the Spanish Empire (16th -18th century)
The Royal Collection at the Prado Museum in Madrid, Spain, is rightly considered the most important and central of the museum’s vast collections. Its growth, fed by the conquests of the empire, underwent a significant surge under Habsburg and Bourbon monarchs. As such, it offers an excellent opportunity to survey the depiction of science and technology within the Spanish Empire. This survey, facilitated by the paintings in the Collection, helps demonstrate how the New Science (the “nuova scienza”) was received during the imperial period. Present research has shown a greater degree of scientific interest in Spain than has hitherto been assumed. Accordingly, Spanish contributions to science and technology in fields such as metallurgy, medicine, cosmography, cartography, navigation, and natural history must not be excluded in accounts of the Early Scientific Revolution.
Jean-Luc Fournet and Anne Tihon, Conformément aux observations d’Hipparque: le papyrus Fouad inv. 267A
Michel Blay, Dieu, la nature et l’homme. L’originalité de l’Occident
Matteo Martelli, The Four Books of Pseudo-Democritus