# mathematics

## Making Measurements accurate – Pierre Vernier and the Vernier Scale

On August 19, 1580, French mathematician and instrument inventor Pierre Vernier was born. He is best known for having invented the eponymous vernier scale, which enabled instruments to make more accurate linear or angular measurements. Pierre Vernier – Early Years Vernier was born in Ornans, Franche-Comté, in 1580. Being born in Franche-Comté (Free Country) meant that Vernier (and his father) were involved, not with the government of France but with that of…

## Archimedes lifted the world off its Hinges

Without knowing his exact date of birth or even death, we focus today on one of the leading scientists in classical antiquity: the ancient Greek mathematician, physicist, engineer, inventor, and astronomer Archimedes of Syracuse, who was born around 287 BC and died at about 212 BC. Only a few details of his life are known, but he is considered the greatest mathematician of antiquity and one of the greatest of all time. Archimedes…

## Hero of Alexandria and his Amazing Experiments

Hero of Alexandria was a Greek mathematician and engineer who was active in his native city of Alexandria, Roman Egypt in the first century AD. He is considered the greatest experimenter of antiquity. Among his most famous inventions was a windwheel, constituting the earliest instance of wind harnessing on land, as well as the well recognized description of a steam-powered device called an aeolipile. The Problem with the Date A major difficulty…

## Abraham de Moivre and the Doctrine of Chances

On May 26, 1667, French mathematician Abraham de Moivre was born. De Moivre is best known for de Moivre‘s formula, one of those that link complex numbers and trigonometry, and for his work on the normal distribution and probability theory. He was a friend of Isaac Newton, Edmond Halley, and James Stirling. De Moivre wrote a book on probability theory, The Doctrine of Chances, said to have been prized by gamblers. He…

## Rudolf Carnap and the Logical Structure of the World

On May 18, 1891, German-born philosopher Rudolf Carnap was born. He was a major member of the Vienna Circle and an advocate of logical positivism and made significant contributions to logic and the philosophy of science. To avoid the ambiguities resulting from the use of ordinary language, he made a logical analysis of language. He believed in studying philosophical issues in artificial languages constructed under the rules of logic and mathematics, which…

## John Charles Fields and the Fields Medal

On May 14, 1863, Canadian mathematician John Charles Fields was born. He is the founder of the Fields Medal for outstanding achievement in mathematics. First awarded in 1936, the medal has been awarded since 1950 every four years at the International Congress of Mathematicians to two to four recipients under the age of 40. John Charles Fields – Early Years Born in Hamilton, Ontario to Harriet Bowes and John Charles Field, a leather…

## John Arbuthnot and the Laws of Chance

On April 29, 1667, Scottish physician, satirist and polymath John Arbuthnot was baptized. He is best remembered for his contributions to mathematics, his membership in the Scriblerus Club (where he inspired both Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels as well as Alexander Pope), and for inventing the figure of John Bull. He published Of the Laws of Chance (1692), the first work on probability published in English, being his translation of a work by…

## Georg von Peuerbach and the Ptolemaic Astronomy

On April 8, 1461, Austrian astronomer, mathematician and instrument maker Georg von Peuerbach passed away. He is best known for his streamlined presentation of Ptolemaic Astronomy in the Theoricae Novae Planetarum, a task being finally completed by famous astronomer Johannes Müller von Königsberg, better known as Regiomontanus.[5] Georg von Peuerbach – Early Years Georg Peurbach’s father was Ulrich Aunpekh. The name Peurbach is just derived from the town in which they lived, about 40…

## William Brouncker’s Approximation of Pi

On April 5, 1684, English mathematician William Brouncker, 2nd Viscount Brouncker passed away. Brouncker introduced Brouncker‘s formula, a development of 4/π in a generalized continued fraction, and was the first President of the Royal Society. £1200 for a Peerage Brouncker was born in Castlelyons, County Cork, the elder son of William Brouncker, 1st Viscount Brouncker and Winifred, daughter of Sir William Leigh of Newnham. His father was created a Viscount in the…

## Nicolas de Condorcet and the Condorcet method

On March 28, 1794, French philosopher, mathematician, and early political scientist Nicolas de Condorcet died a mysterious death in prison after a period of flight from French Revolutionary authorities. He is probably best known for the Condorcet method, which in voting tally selects the candidate who would beat each of the other candidates in a run-off election. Unlike many of his contemporaries, he advocated a liberal economy, free and equal public instruction, constitutionalism,…
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