A Mathematician's Journeys: Otto Neugebauer and Modern

This publication explores aspects of Otto Neugebauer's occupation, his influence at the historical past and perform of arithmetic, and the ways that his legacy has been preserved or reworked in contemporary a long time, watching for the instructions during which the examine of the historical past of technology will head within the twenty-first century.

Neugebauer, greater than the other pupil of contemporary occasions, formed the way in which we understand premodern technological know-how. via his scholarship and impression on scholars and collaborators, he inculcated either an method of old study on historical and medieval arithmetic and astronomy via designated mathematical and philological examine of texts, and a imaginative and prescient of those sciences as platforms of data and technique that unfold outward from the traditional close to japanese civilizations, crossing cultural barriers and circulating over a big geographical expanse of the previous international from the Atlantic to India.

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Additional resources for A Mathematician's Journeys: Otto Neugebauer and Modern Transformations of Ancient Science (Archimedes, Volume 45)

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Rowe Apparently he never attended the course afterward, a clear sign that he was drifting away from physics. Neugebauer’s transition to pure mathematics was most definitely hastened by his experiences in Courant’s seminar on algebraic functions. Countless stories have been told about episodes that took place in Göttingen seminars, many of them reflecting their highly charged, competitive atmosphere. All participants surely knew that their performances would be scrutinized carefully, not only by the professors but even more so by their peers.

At any rate, this new venture did help to stir Neugebauer’s imagination; it even led to a brief collaboration with one jointly written paper on a special problem in Bohr’s theory (Bohr and Neugebauer 1926). Yet strangely enough, this trip to Copenhagen sparked a new interest that would prove decisive for Neugebauer’s future career as an historian of mathematics. Quite by chance, Bohr invited him to write a review of T. Eric Peet’s edition of the Rhind Papyrus for the Danish journal Matematisk Tidsskrift.

Presumably he was alluding to the ancient myth that the discovery of incommensurable magnitudes had caused a crisis among mathematicians who held to the Pythagorean doctrine that “all is number”. The notion that this famous breakthrough led to an “ancient foundations crisis” soon emerged as a parallel theme among historians of mathematics, who tried to draw a picture of subsequent developments up to the time of Euclid (Christianidis 2004, 233–256). Neugebauer, who was always skeptical about the influence of older Pythagorean thought on Greek mathematics, would later draw a different parallel, linking Hilbert’s proof theory to the Egyptian number system (see below).

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