By Olaf Pedersen
The Almagest, by way of the Greek astronomer and mathematician Ptolemy, is an important surviving treatise on early mathematical astronomy, supplying historians important perception into the astronomy and arithmetic of the traditional world.
Pedersen's 1974 book, A Survey of the Almagest, is the latest in a protracted culture of partners to the Almagest. half paraphrase and half statement, Pedersen's paintings has earned the common compliment of historians and serves because the definitive introductory textual content for college kids drawn to learning the Almagest.
during this revised version, Alexander Jones, a exclusive authority at the background of early astronomy, presents supplementary info and observation to the unique textual content to account for scholarship that has seemed due to the fact 1974. This revision additionally comprises a number of corrections to Pedersen's unique textual content which were pointed out given that its publication.
This quantity is meant to supply scholars of the background of astronomy with a self-contained advent to the Almagest, assisting them to appreciate and delight in Ptolemy's nice and classical paintings.
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Extra info for A Survey of the Almagest: With Annotation and New Commentary by Alexander Jones (Sources and Studies in the History of Mathematics and Physical Sciences)
Here Aristotle had advocated a very strict position, admitting only component circular motions which were 1) uniform as seen from their own centres, and 2) concentric with the universe as a whole. As is well known, a theory fulfilling these requirements was proposed by Eudoxos (Metaph. xii, 8, 1073 b), but it failed because it was unable to account for the varying distances of the planets (cf. Herz, 1887, and Neugebauer, 1953). Consequently both Apollonius and Hipparchus were forced to abandon the second condition, admitting into their theories circles with centres other than that of the universe.
In the Almagest it is used for almost all trigonometrical and astronomical calculations, but not in precisely the same form as in Babylonian astronomy. In fact, Ptolemy (or Hipparchus) modified it in several ways: 51 I I I I 1) He discarded the Babylonian cuneiform script, using everywhere Greek letters as number symbols, with the values already allotted to them in Greek mathematics. This made his computations more easily understandable to Greek readers, but augmented the number of symbols required, thus destroying some of the beautiful simplicity of the system.
Ptolemy's Numerical Calculations Since most of the mathematics ofthe Almagest consists oftrigonometricaI calculations in which geometrical entities are represented by numbers, we shall begin with a brief survey of how Ptolemy made numerical computations. Thjs implies a certain knowledge of the number systems he employed. Here we can distinguish at least three different systems, of Greek, Egyptian, and Babylonian origin respectively. When Ptolemy wants to write an integer he usually applies the Greek number system (see Thomas, i, 41-63).
A Survey of the Almagest: With Annotation and New Commentary by Alexander Jones (Sources and Studies in the History of Mathematics and Physical Sciences) by Olaf Pedersen