By Olaf Pedersen

ISBN-10: 0387848258

ISBN-13: 9780387848259

The Almagest, by means of the Greek astronomer and mathematician Ptolemy, is an important surviving treatise on early mathematical astronomy, providing historians useful perception into the astronomy and arithmetic of the traditional world.

Pedersen's 1974 ebook, A Survey of the Almagest, is the latest in a protracted culture of partners to the Almagest. half paraphrase and half remark, Pedersen's paintings has earned the common compliment of historians and serves because the definitive introductory textual content for college kids attracted to learning the Almagest.

during this revised variation, Alexander Jones, a unusual authority at the heritage of early astronomy, presents supplementary details and observation to the unique textual content to account for scholarship that has seemed for the reason that 1974. This revision additionally contains a number of corrections to Pedersen's unique textual content which were pointed out because its publication.

This quantity is meant to supply scholars of the historical past of astronomy with a self-contained creation to the Almagest, supporting them to appreciate and relish Ptolemy's nice and classical paintings.

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Additional 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)

Example text

From the very infancy of Greek science one particular geometrical concept had been proposed as the principal conceptual tool of the theoretical astronomer. If we are to believe Geminus (Elem. Astr. i, 19) it was the Pythagoreans who first assumed that the motions of the Sun, Moon, and planets are circular and uniform. What this means is clearly stated in the Almagest [III, 3; Hei 1, 216] where Ptolemy considers a point moving upon the circumference of a circle in such a way that a line from the centre to the moving point describes equal angles in equal times.

Actually z = 33" makes the right hand side of (C) equal to 831";41,30 so that the result is too big. If we wanted to proceed with more sexagesimal places we would put z = 32"; but if we want the nearest two-place value then Theon's result is the most correct. 53 This procedure is explained by Theon in words. He does not say whether any kind of algorithm is used. Now it is obvious that the method is very similar to that used today in ordinary divisions of decimal fractions, so that a simple algorithm can be constructed along modern lines.

Obviously Ptolemy assumed his readers to be well versed in his own particular form of the sexagesimal system. Perhaps this was so in his own times; but later in Antiquity and in the Middle Ages one felt the need for a particular introduction to practical computations 2). This might well be the case for a modern reader too. We cannot here go into all the aspects of this problem, but shall only indicate a few methods of particular importance. Being a positional system, the sexagesimal system is very similar to the decimal system which we all know to-day.

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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


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