Otto E. Neugebauer
|Died||February 19, 1990 90) (aged|
|Children||Margo Neugebauer, Gerry Neugebauer|
Otto Eduard Neugebauer (May 26, 1899 – February 19, 1990) was an Austrian-American mathematician and historian of science who became known for his research on the history of astronomy and the other exact sciences as they were practiced in antiquity and the Middle Ages. By studying clay tablets, he discovered that the ancient Babylonians knew much more about mathematics and astronomy than had been previously realized. The National Academy of Sciences has called Neugebauer "the most original and productive scholar of the history of the exact sciences, perhaps of the history of science, of our age."
Neugebauer was born in Innsbruck, Austria. His father Rudolph Neugebauer was a railroad construction engineer and a collector and scholar of Oriental carpets. His parents died when he was quite young. During World War I, Neugebauer enlisted in the Austrian Army and served as an artillery lieutenant on the Italian front and then in an Italian prisoner-of-war camp alongside fellow countryman Ludwig Wittgenstein. In 1919, he entered the University of Graz in electrical engineering and physics and, in 1921, transferred to the University of Munich. From 1922 to 1924, he studied mathematics at the University of Göttingen under Richard Courant, Edmund Landau, and Emmy Noether. During 1924–1925, he was at the University of Copenhagen, where his interests changed to the history of Egyptian mathematics.
He returned to Göttingen and remained there until 1933. His thesis Die Grundlagen der ägyptischen Bruchrechnung ("The Fundamentals of Egyptian Calculation with Fractions") (Springer, 1926) was a mathematical analysis of the table in the Rhind Papyrus. In 1927, he received his venia legendi for the history of mathematics and served as Privatdozent. His first paper on Babylonian mathematics, in 1927, was an account of the origin of the sexagesimal system.
In 1929, Neugebauer founded Quellen und Studien zur Geschichte der Mathematik, Astronomie und Physik (QS), a Springer series devoted to the history of the mathematical sciences, in which he published extended papers on Egyptian computational techniques in arithmetic and geometry, including the Moscow Papyrus, the most important text for geometry. Neugebauer had worked on the Moscow Papyrus in Leningrad in 1928.
In 1931, he founded the review journal Zentralblatt für Mathematik und ihre Grenzgebiete (Zbl), his most important contribution to modern mathematics.[ citation needed ] When Adolf Hitler became chancellor in 1933, Neugebauer was asked to sign an oath of loyalty to the new German government, but he refused and was promptly suspended from employment. In 1934, he joined the University of Copenhagen as a full professor of mathematics. In 1936, he published a paper on the method of dating and analyzing texts using diophantine equations. During 1935–1937, he published a corpus of texts named Mathematische Keilschrift-Texte (MKT). MKT was a colossal work, in size, detail, and depth, and its contents showed that Babylonian mathematics far surpassed anything one could imagine from a knowledge of Egyptian and Greek mathematics. He was an Invited Speaker of the ICM in 1928 in Bologna and a Plenary Speaker of the ICM in 1936 in Oslo.
In 1939, after the Zentralblatt was taken over by the Nazis, he moved to the United States, joined the mathematics department at Brown University, and founded Mathematical Reviews . He became an American citizen and remained at Brown for most of his career, founding the History of Mathematics Department there in 1947 and becoming University Professor. Jointly with the American Assyriologist Abraham Sachs, he published Mathematical Cuneiform Texts in 1945, which has remained a standard English-language work on Babylonian mathematics. In 1967, he was awarded the Henry Norris Russell Lectureship by the American Astronomical Society. In 1977, he was elected to the National Academy of Sciences, and in 1979, he received the Award for Distinguished Service to Mathematics from the Mathematical Association of America. In 1984, he moved to the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, where he had been a member since 1950.
Neugebauer was also interested in chronology. He was able to reconstruct the Alexandrian Christian calendar and its origin from the Alexandrian Jewish calendar as of about the 4th century, at least 200 years prior to any other source for either calendar. Thus, the Jewish calendar was derived by combining the 19-year cycle using the Alexandrian year with the seven-day week, and was then slightly modified by the Christians to prevent Easter from ever coinciding with Passover. The ecclesiastical calendar, considered by church historians to be highly scientific and deeply complex, turned out to be quite simple.
In 1988, by studying a scrap of Greek papyrus, Neugebauer discovered the most important single piece of evidence to date for the extensive transmission of Babylonian astronomy to the Greeks and for the continuing use of Babylonian methods for 400 years even after Ptolemy wrote the Almagest. His last paper, "From Assyriology to Renaissance Art", published in 1989, detailed the history of a single astronomical parameter, the mean length of the synodic month, from cuneiform tablets, to the papyrus fragment just mentioned, to the Jewish calendar, to an early 15th-century book of hours.
In 1986, Neugebauer was awarded the Balzan Prize "for his fundamental research into the exact sciences in the ancient world, in particular, on ancient Mesopotamian, Egyptian and Greek astronomy, which has put our understanding of ancient science on a new footing and illuminated its transmission to the classical and medieval worlds. For his outstanding success in promoting interest and further research in the history of science" (Motivation of the Balzan General Prize Committee). Neugebauer donated the prize money of 250,000 Swiss francs to the Institute for Advanced Study.
Neugebauer began his career as a mathematician, then turned to Egyptian and Babylonian mathematics, and then took up the history of mathematical astronomy. In a career of sixty-five years, he largely created modern understanding of mathematical astronomy in Babylon and Egypt, through Greco-Roman antiquity, to India, the Islamic world, and Europe of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. The noted physicist and astronomer Gerry Neugebauer at Caltech was his son.
In 1936, he gave a plenary lecture at the International Congress of Mathematicians in Oslo. This was about pre-Greek mathematics and its position relative to the Greek.
Astronomy is the oldest of the natural sciences, dating back to antiquity, with its origins in the religious, mythological, cosmological, calendrical, and astrological beliefs and practices of prehistory: vestiges of these are still found in astrology, a discipline long interwoven with public and governmental astronomy. It was not completely separated in Europe during the Copernican Revolution starting in 1543. In some cultures, astronomical data was used for astrological prognostication. The study of astronomy has received financial and social support from many institutions, especially the Church, which was its largest source of support between the 12th century to the Enlightenment.
Claudius Ptolemy was a mathematician, astronomer, natural philosopher, geographer and astrologer who wrote several scientific treatises, three of which were of importance to later Byzantine, Islamic and Western European science. The first is the astronomical treatise now known as the Almagest, although it was originally entitled the Mathematical Treatise and then known as The Great Treatise. The second is the Geography, which is a thorough discussion of the geographic knowledge of the Greco-Roman world. The third is the astrological treatise in which he attempted to adapt horoscopic astrology to the Aristotelian natural philosophy of his day. This is sometimes known as the Apotelesmatiká (Ἀποτελεσματικά) but more commonly known as the Tetrábiblos from the Koine Greek (Τετράβιβλος) meaning "Four Books" or by the Latin Quadripartitum.
Nabu-ri-man-nu was a Chaldean astronomer and mathematician.
Kidinnu was a Chaldean astronomer and mathematician. Strabo of Amaseia called him Kidenas, Pliny the Elder Cidenas, and Vettius Valens Kidynas.
Sexagesimal, also known as base 60 or sexagenary, is a numeral system with sixty as its base. It originated with the ancient Sumerians in the 3rd millennium BC, was passed down to the ancient Babylonians, and is still used—in a modified form—for measuring time, angles, and geographic coordinates.
The ancient Egyptian calendar – a civil calendar – was a solar calendar with a 365-day year. The year consisted of three seasons of 120 days each, plus an intercalary month of five epagomenal days treated as outside of the year proper. Each season was divided into four months of 30 days. These twelve months were initially numbered within each season but came to also be known by the names of their principal festivals. Each month was divided into three 10-day periods known as decans or decades. It has been suggested that during the Nineteenth Dynasty and the Twentieth Dynasty the last two days of each decan were usually treated as a kind of weekend for the royal craftsmen, with royal artisans free from work.
A water clock or clepsydra is any timepiece by which time is measured by the regulated flow of liquid into or out from a vessel, and where the amount is then measured.
Sudines : Babylonian sage. He is mentioned as one of the famous Chaldean mathematicians and astronomer-astrologers by later Roman writers like Strabo.
Astrological beliefs in correspondences between celestial observations and terrestrial events have influenced various aspects of human history, including world-views, language and many elements of social culture.
Babylonian mathematics denotes the mathematics developed or practiced by the people of Mesopotamia, from the days of the early Sumerians to the centuries following the fall of Babylon in 539 BC. Babylonian mathematical texts are plentiful and well edited. With respect to time they fall in two distinct groups: one from the Old Babylonian period, the other mainly Seleucid from the last three or four centuries BC. With respect to content, there is scarcely any difference between the two groups of texts. Babylonian mathematics remained constant, in character and content, for nearly two millennia.
Babylonian astronomy was the study or recording of celestial objects during the early history of Mesopotamia.
Babylonian astrology was the first known organized system of astrology, arising in the second millennium BC.
David Edwin Pingree was an American historian of mathematics in the ancient world. He was a University Professor and Professor of History of Mathematics and Classics at Brown University.
Richard Anthony Parker was a prominent Egyptologist and professor of Egyptology. Originally from Chicago, he attended Mt. Carmel High School with acclaimed author James T. Farrell. He received an A.B. from Dartmouth College in 1930, and a Ph.D. in Egyptology from the University of Chicago in 1938. He then went to Luxor, Egypt to work as an epigrapher with the University of Chicago’s Epigraphic and Architectural Survey, studying the mortuary temple of Ramses III. When World War II necessitated a temporary halt to the project, Parker came back to Chicago to teach Egyptology at the university. In 1946, he returned to Egypt to continue his work on the epigraphic survey, and soon rose to the position of field director.
YBC 7289 is a Babylonian clay tablet notable for containing an accurate sexagesimal approximation to the square root of 2, the length of the diagonal of a unit square. This number is given to the equivalent of six decimal digits, "the greatest known computational accuracy ... in the ancient world". The tablet is believed to be the work of a student in southern Mesopotamia from some time between 1800 and 1600 BC. It was donated to the Yale Babylonian Collection by J. P. Morgan.
Egyptian astronomy begins in prehistoric times, in the Predynastic Period. In the 5th millennium BCE, the stone circles at Nabta Playa may have made use of astronomical alignments. By the time the historical Dynastic Period began in the 3rd millennium BCE, the 365 day period of the Egyptian calendar was already in use, and the observation of stars was important in determining the annual flooding of the Nile.
Hermann Hunger, an Austrian Assyriologist, professor emeritus of Assyriology at the University of Vienna, from which he retired in 2007. He has been recognized for his work on Babylonian astronomy and celestial omens.
The Book of Nut is a collection of ancient Egyptian astronomical texts, also covering various mythological subjects. These texts focus on the cycles of the stars of the decans, the movements of the moon, the sun, and the planets, on the sundials, and related matters.
Dodecatemoria are subdivisions of the twelve signs of the Zodiac into a further twelve parts each. These can be said to form a "micro-zodiac" of 144 dodecatemoria, each corresponding to 2.5° of the ecliptic. In an alternate usage, the dodecamorion refers to a point on the ecliptic reached by the addition of twelve times a given number of degrees within a sign, either to the original degree, or to the beginning of the sign.
Lis Brack-Bernsen is a Danish and Swiss mathematician, historian of science, and historian of mathematics, known for her work on Babylonian astronomy. She is an extraordinary professor of the history of science at the University of Regensburg.
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