A Short History of Science

By W. T. Sedgwick; H. W. Tyler | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XI
PROGRESS OF MATHEMATICS AND MECHANICS IN THE SIXTEENTH CENTURY

IT was not alone the striving for universal culture which attracted the great masters of the Renaissance, such as Brunelleschi, Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Michael Angelo and especially Albrecht Dürer, with irresistible power to the mathematical sciences. They were conscious that, with all the freedom of the individual phantasy, art is subject to necessary laws and, conversely, with all its rigor of logical structure, mathematics follows esthetic laws. -- Rudio.

The miraculous powers of modern calculation are due to three inventions: the Arabic Notation, Decimal Fractions and Logarithms. -- Cajori.

The invention of logarithms and the calculation of the earlier tables form a very striking episode in the history of exact science, and, with the exception of the Principia of Newton, there is no mathematical work published in the country which has produced such important consequences, or to which so much interest attaches as to Napier's Descriptio. -- Glaisher.

It is Italy, which is the fatherland of Archimedes, whose creative power embraces all domains of the mechanical science, the land of the Renaissance, from out of which those mighty waves of new ideas and new impulses in science and art have come forth into the world -- the fatherland of Galileo the creator of experimental physics, of Leonardo da Vinci the engineer, of Lagrange who has given its form to modern analytical mechanics. -- W. v. Dyck.

Dynamics is really a product of modern times, and affords the rare example of a development fulfilled in a single great personage -- Galileo. Nothing is finer than how he, beginning in the Aristotelian spirit, gradually frees himself from its bondage and, instead of empty metaphysics, introduces well-directed methodical investigations of nature. -- Timerding.

The period from the invention of printing about 1450 to that of analytic geometry in 1637 was one of very great importance for mathematics and mechanics as well as for astronomy. At the

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