Almagest: Vol. IX, Issue 1

Table of Contents and Abstracts, Almagest 9-1, May 2018

Noël Golvers
Mathematical instruction at the Colégio das Artes in Coimbra: Adam Aigenler’s ‘rota astronomica’ (1672)
DOI 10.1484/J.ALMAGEST.5.116016

Two completely different sources report, with some details, on the composition of a ‘rota astronomica’ by Adam Aigenler, SJ, within the context of his teaching mathematics at the Colégio das Artes in Coimbra during the academic year 1672-1673; the original concept consisted of a demonstrational instrument and its description, carved in a copper plate, never used for printing, and an autograph transcription, both apparently lost in the 1860s. Yet, Aigenler’s work resurfaces in an expanded Chinese version, now in the form of a celestial atlas with 14 star maps, printed in Chinese, and referring to its original author under the wrong name *Rigenler; also this is lost in the 1860s. Despite this loss, it remains a rare, interesting example of the didactical methods and tools developed and used both by this Jesuit mathematician (whose work remained so far largely ignored due to wrong catalogue entries [*Rigenler; *Aigenter]), and the Jesuit ‘Indipetae’ in general during their extra-curricular (?) courses at the Colégio das Artes, of which A. Thomas’s almost simultaneous Synopsis Mathematica is another testimony.

Oscar Sheynin
“Saint Fedos”:A biography of Feodosy Nikolaevich Krasovsky (1878 – 1948)
DOI 10.1484/J.ALMAGEST.5.116017

The title of this paper was the nickname of a talented geodesist, Feodosy Nikolaevich Krasovsky (1878 – 1948) which his students awarded him for his scientific work. He transformed and to a large extent created Soviet geodesy and assisted in the development of this science abroad. Krasovsky created a school and, until his death, remained its recognized leader.
Thus, he developed a harmonious programme and scheme of the main triangulation of a large country and a rigorous method of its mathematical treatment. Together with his former student, the younger great scientist Mikhail Sergeevich Molodensky (1909 – 1991), Krasovsky (just as eminent foreign scholars as well) emphasized the need for applying gravimetry in studies of the figure of the Earth. The parameters of the Krasovsky ellipsoid,
a = 6 378 245m, α = (a – b)/a = 1/298.3
which Aleksandr Aleksandrovich Izotov calculated under Krasovsky’s guidance, had been the best possible for that time. During the last years of his life, Krasovsky studied the problems of physical geodesy and its connections with geophysics and geology.
I have graduated from the Moscow Geodetic Institute in 1951 as an astronomer geodesist, and Victor Vasilievich Danilov, whose essay on Krasovsky I am quoting below, was the supervisor, or mentor of my diploma. During my student years, Feodosy Nikolaevich Krasovsky did not read lectures anymore, but his name had been on the lips of our instructors.

Fotios Prapas
Elements from the cosmology of Saint Maximus the Confessor: Man as mediator of salvation of cosmos
DOI 10.1484/J.ALMAGEST.5.116018

St. Maximus the Confessor’s cosmology differentiates from earlier theological contemplations, just as those of Dionysius the Areopagite and Gregory of Nazianzus, in a sense that it is characterized by intense anthropological character. For Maximus the Confessor the central idea concerning his cosmology is the concept of salvation. Man having the precedence in creation is called by God to mediate in the undertaking of restoration and redemption of himself and cosmos as well, abolishing the creation’s divisions calling for a uninterrupted unity of everything according to the love pattern of life of Holy Trinity. The from eternity logoi of the beings (λόγοι τῶν ὄντων) reflect God’s creating will and necessitate the whole creation an image of Holy Trinity. Specifically, for man, the reason of his nature (ὁ λόγος τῆς φύσεώς του) constitutes the guiding principle according to which recapitulating in man person as an image of God to mediate as a priest through love and in freedom, apart from his own salvation, for the creation of the world as well. The unrivalled experience of love relationship and the course towards the deification meets primarily in the worship of Church and mostly in the mystery of Holy Eucharist.

Antonios N. Andriotis
The theory of “Πανταχηκίνητον” (Pantachikiniton) of Benjamin Lesvios
DOI 10.1484/J.ALMAGEST.5.116019

In the present work, we present the conclusions of our investigation about “Πανταχηκίνητον” (Pantachikiniton), the model theory of physics, proposed by Benjamin Lesvios, a Greek physicist and philosopher (1759/1762 – 1824). Our work is a systematic study of Pantachikiniton based on an exhaustive study of existing manuscripts.
It is demonstrated that Pantachikiniton is a complete and original theory of physics, which reconciles newtonian and cartesian components in a way reminiscent the dual nature of light and that of the energy. In addition to this, it has been found that the theory of Pantachikiniton is a self-consistent theory with a tightly bound internal structure.
Pantachikiniton itself appears to be one of the earliest identifications of the physical quantity of the energy integrating elements of its dual character, i.e., the corpuscular and the wave one. As a consequence of this, Pantachikiniton has the inherent property of universality. Gravity, electric, magnetic and luminous fluids, as well as the heat and sound fluids appear to be manifestations of one and only one quantity, the Pantachikiniton, i.e., the energy.

Kai Wang
Scientific Gentry and Socialisation of Western Science in China’s Modernisation during ‘Self-strengthening’ Movement (1860-1895)
DOI 10.1484/J.ALMAGEST.5.116020

This article offers an investigation of the social settings within which socialisation of modern science in the later imperial China was initialised by the newly emerged social players, namely the scientific gentry, during the period of ‘Self-strengthening’ Movement (1860-1895). Sociological perspectives are deployed in historical examination of the roles played by scientific knowledge in structuring social life in China, with particular attention being paid to how the traditional gentry adopting modern science and technology in preserving its status as the ruling class, which gave rise to the scientific gentry while the country entered the modern era. Scientific knowledge production and curation are thus perceived in the broader cultural and institutional background of China’s confrontation with modernity.
Beyond delineating modern science and technology adopted by the gentry as self-strengthening device, I argue that more fundamental impacts were brought forth to China’s social structure as scientific knowledge became socialised. The findings shed new lights to our understanding of relationship between socialisation of modern science and modernisation of China’s society, both shall serve as prominent objectives in studies of science and society in China as composing part of world history.

Evgeny Zaytsev
The Priority of Object over Method in Early Greek Mathematics”
DOI 10.1484/J.ALMAGEST.5.116021

In modern mathematics, whose origins date back to the seventeenth century, method takes priority over the object, as the generality of method (which relies on a set of axioms and the laws of formal logic, applicable to any kind of objects whatsoever) implies the generality of the studied object. This epistemological attitude was alien to Greek mathematics, in which the generality of method did not necessarily mean the general character of its object. This is manifest, e.g., in Euclid’s Elements, where the axiomatic-deductive method does not eradicate the particularity of the studied objects: numbers, lengths, plane figures, and solids. The aim of this paper consists in showing that in the early stages of Greek mathematics, when axiomatic-deductive way of argumentation was still unknown, object took priority over method in the sense that an investigation was not accomplished according to a definite method, fixed in advance, but rather relied upon methods that were suggested, in each particular case, by the structure of the appropriate objects. I will examine such a state of affairs by proposing reconstructions of archaic demonstrations of theorems taken from early geometry, arithmetic, and the theory of ratios and proportions.