Mathematics and Statistics Colloquium
The Forgotten Man: Astronomy in the Transformative 15th Century
Glen van Brummelen, Quest University/Institute for Advanced Study
Thursday, February 20, 4:00 PM, Davis 301
Refreshments at 3:30 PM, 2nd floor of Davis
We know a lot less than we think. The history of mathematics is partly a record of what happened, but uncomfortably more than we might expect, over the decades it has also been a record of what we care about. We will explore one episode that illustrates the “forgotten” history of mathematics, in early 15th-century mathematical astronomy. The forgotten man is Giovanni Bianchini, the CFO from Ferrara who turned his eye away from bookkeeping and toward the heavens. His unusual path to academia provoked a number of revolutions, including among others the birth of the European tangent function. Overlooked in the shadow cast by his now more illustrious successor Regiomontanus, Bianchini’s role in the history of mathematics and science fully deserves a resurrection.