Almagest: Vol. VI, Issue 2

Table of Contents and Abstracts, Almagest 6-2, November 2015

Anne Tihon
Remarques sur les scolies anciennes de l’Almageste
DOI : 10.1484/J.ALMAGEST.5.109660

This paper intends to examine the hypothesis proposed by David Pingree in a paper publi- shed in 1994, “The Teaching of the Almagest in Late Antiquity”, in Barnes, T.D. (ed.), The Sciences in Greco-Roman Society, Apeiron 27,4 : 75-98. In this essay D. Pingree suggests that the scholia of the Almagest issued from the Neoplatonician teaching of Alexandria were compiled in Syria around 600, in a Nestorian milieu. The present paper is divided in two parts: first, a general presentation of the problems raised by the scholia and the manuscript tradition; secondly, an edition with a French translation and a brief analysis of the scholia quoted by D. Pingree for supporting the idea of a passage to Syria. Another little scholion comparing Pappus and Theon is also published. The analysis shows that there are no clear elements showing a link with Syria. In addition an annex gives a list of the passages of Theon written in the scholia of book III of the Almagest (based on the unedited papers of Joseph Mogenet), and some examples of laudative epithets used in the Vth and VIth centuries for naming the great scientists or philosophers of the time.

Millán Gasca
“Une jeune fille fort sérieuse”: Suzanne Lambin (1902-2008), A Pioneer in Biomedicine and Biomathematics
DOI: 10.1484/J.ALMAGEST.5.109661

In 1951 Suzanne Lambin (1902-2008) became the first woman to occupy a chair (mi- crobiology) at the Faculty of Pharmacy of Paris University. Her scientific career offers an example of the rise to visibility of a young woman scientist from an educated, middle class family thanks to the opening up of public education towards women in France during the Third Republic. She had the opportunity to collaborate with four outstanding figures in the golden age of theoretical ecology and to participate in this intellectual enterprise: as a student at Nantes, she worked with Stéphane Leduc (1853-1939), and in the ‘Thirties, in Paris, together with her mentor, Jean Régnier (1892-1946), she collaborated with two mathematicians, the Italian Vito Volterra (1860-1940) and the Russian Vladimir Kostizin (1883-1963). Thus, Lambin’s scientific career was also helped by the encounters with men who were open-minded both regarding the collaboration with women in research, and regarding the exploration of new paths in science. This essay is based on unpublished sources from Lambin’s personal archive, and on an interview with her in her Paris home. Régnier’s and Lambin’s technical ability and theoretical, dynamical approach to the evo- lution of microbiological populations made it possible to set up a series of experiments in the Régnier microbiological laboratory at the Ambroise Paré Hospital to provide biological feedback for Volterra’s equations of population dynamics. Their research was a seminal contribution to the evolution of biomathematics, and the underlying scientific project can be better grasped thanks to the unpublished introduction to a projected book on the numerical approach in microbiology, or –in the authors’ words– the “cyphered knowledge of the rhythms of life”.

Jan Vandersmissen
Débats européens sur les formes de la vie marine au Siècle des Lumières
DOI : 10.1484/J.ALMAGEST.5.109662

Dès la fin du XVIIe siècle et surtout dans le courant du XVIIIe le corail est au cœur de débats enflammés qui ont comme objet la nature même de la vie marine. Cette étude a comme objectif d’étudier les acteurs qui animent ces débats, et de suivre une succession de priorités intellectuelles qui renvoient à des changements épistémologiques profonds. C’est une étude d’un monde savant toujours en désaccord sur le fondement de ce qu’on appelle à l’époque « minéral », « végétal » ou « animal », et fortement influencé par les tensions entre autorité et vérité, entre observation et expérience. On insistera ici sur la dimension européenne des débats, reliant les côtes de la Méditerranée et de l’Atlantique, où on produit des connaissances profondément nouvelles à travers l’observation et l’ex- périence in situ, aux institutions savantes où les résultats de ces travaux sont analysés, débattus, acceptés ou rejetés.

René Sigrist, Alexander Moutchnik
Entre Ciel et Terre : les fonctions de l’astronomie dans la Russie du 18e siècle
DOI : 10.1484/J.ALMAGEST.5.109663

This article aims at describing the state and society expectations about astronomy in 18th century Russia. It starts with Peter 1st’s attempt to create a powerful navy and to dispose of good maps of his empire, a policy that established a favorable context for the develop- ment of practical astronomy. A further step was reached in 1726-27 with the creation of the Academic Observatory and the recruitment of Joseph Nicolas Delisle, whose research program included the movements of stars, the aberration of light, the nutation of the Earth’s axis and atmospheric refractions as well as the determination of longitudes on Earth. His monitoring and organization skills allowed him to mobilize human and material resources beyond the limited circle of specialists. A further favorable circumstance was the presence of Euler, who could develop celestial mechanics on the basis of observations provided by Delisle and his team. Despite ups and downs in the state support, a first peak was reached in 1769, when no less than seven “Russian” teams were organized for obser- ving the Transit of Venus. At Euler’s death (1783), the practice of astronomy had reached such a momentum within the Petersburg academy that it would survive the subsequent reconfiguration of the discipline.

Raffaele Pisano, Paolo Bussotti
Fibonacci and the Abacus Schools in Italy. Mathematical Conceptual Streams - Education and its Changing Relationship with Society
DOI: 10.1484/J.ALMAGEST.5.109664

In this paper we present the relations between mathematics and mathematics education in Italy between the 12th and the 16th century. Since the subject is extremely wide, we will focus on two case-studies to point out some relevant aspects of this phenomenon:
1) Fibonacci’s studies (12th-13th century); 2) Abacus schools. More particularly, Fibonacci, probably the greatest European mathematician of the Middle Ages, made the calculations with Hindu-Arabic digits widely spread in Europe; Abacus schools were also based on the teaching of the calculation with Hindu-Arabic digits. These case-studies are significant for understanding the connections between science, science education and the development of science within Western civilization. We think that the knowledge of such significant relations can be useful for the scholars who are nowadays engaged in mathematics education and in the research field of science-society relations. Finally, we attempt to outline the interaction between mathematics education and advanced mathematics in that period, focusing on the figure of Leonardo Pisano (c. 1170-c.1250), called Fibonacci, who played an influential role both in mathematics education and in advanced mathematics.

Book review
Nadia Danova
Alexandre Kostov, От занаят към професия. Инженерството на Балканите от началото на ХVІІІ век до Първата световна война (From Craft to Profession. Engineering in the Balkans from the Beginning of the 18th Century to World War I) Sofia, Paradigma, 2015, 412 p.
DOI 10.1484/J.ALMAGEST.5.109667