The workshop will focus on Scottish natural philosophy and mathematics, and their innovative developments between 1550 and 1750. The astronomical observatory James Gregory founded at the University of St Andrews in 1673, six years behind Paris, but two years ahead of Greenwich, is just one example of relevant institutional initiatives that were taking place in 17th-century Scotland. However, despite the major shifts in scientific culture taking place elsewhere, traditional Scottish historiography of the period has been framed in terms of religious factions. The question of how scientific innovations flourished in this context has been little addressed.
To understand this question, we are particularly interested in mathematical practices related to measurement both in astronomy and in contexts such as navigation, surveying, cask gauging, grain measuring, and so on. Early modern professional gaugers and measurers were essentially authoritative mediators, often at the service of local authorities, powerful lords, or the crown itself, mediating between merchants, bankers, landowners, town dwellers, and public authorities. Some apparently paradoxical processes of conceptual change in early modern mathematics, such as of ratio and proportionality, can only be understood by examining the mathematical collective tacit knowledge developed through practices with measuring instruments. Such instruments, and the associated practices, concepts, and books, circulated through networks of exchange.
|Friday 23 Nov|
|9.30||Alison Morrison-Low (National Museums of Scotland): Surviving scientific instruments from early modern Scotland: a survey|
|Samuel Gessner (Lisbon): Thinking with instruments and the appropriation of logarithms on the Iberian Peninsula around 1630|
|11.30||Kevin Baker (Oxford): Practices of Reading the Principia: How contemporaries engaged with Newton's book in the years immediately after publication|
|Olivier Bruneau (Lorraine): Colin MacLaurin (1698-1746): a Newtonian between theory and practice|
|14.00||Visit to Special Collections to see St Andrews' collection of Medieval and Early Modern mathematics and astronomy books|
|16.00||Steve Russ (Warwick): John Napier: the mysterious making of a mathematician|
|David Horowitz (St Andrews): John Craig (1663-1731)|
|9.00||Davide Crippa (CNRS, Sphere): James Gregory and his Italian readers : beating untrodden paths|
|Pilar Gil (St Andrews): Building an astronomical observatory in the knowledge community of St Andrews in the 17th century|
|Bruno Almeida (Lisbon): Mathematics and Navigation: Pedro Nunes' works in England in the sixteenth century|
|11.30||Alex Craik (St Andrews): George Sinclair on Hydrostatics|
|Jane Wess (Edinburgh): Colin MacLaurin on Wind and Water: the Local and the Universal|
|13.45||Albrecht Heefer (Ghent): The difficult relation of surveyors and algebra: the hundred geometrical questions of Cardinael|
|Philip Beeley (Oxford): 'There are Great Alterations in the Geometry of Late': Isaac Newton's early Scottish circle|
This event is organised in conjunction with the British Society for the History of Mathematics and sponsored by the British Society for the History of Science, the Royal Astronomical Society and the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications, to whom many thanks.