Questions tagged [antiquity]

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4 votes
3 answers
387 views

Has anyone explored Ptolemy's epicycles as an early form of Fourier analysis?

Whilst researching science in the ancient world, I came across an observation, which unfortunately I did not make a note of, and so cannot credit, that Ptolemy's epicycles were an early form of ...
5 votes
1 answer
1k views

What are Archimedes's contributions to the principle of the screw pump?

I read that the famous screw pumps were used before Archimedes (in the hanging gardens of Babylon for example), and that the Archimedean screw is named after him because he "developed a rigorous ...
2 votes
0 answers
121 views

What were Archimedes's improvements to the screw pump?

In order to understand my motivation to answer this question, I'll remark that Vitruvius said that the screw was inclined by the small angle of a 3:4:5 triangle. So it means that perhaps there was ...
3 votes
2 answers
348 views

How did Archimedes arrive at his principle in his time?

Archimedes principle: Any object, wholly or partially immersed in a stationary fluid, is buoyed up by a force equal to the weight of the fluid displaced by the object. I get that this can be ...
0 votes
2 answers
276 views

What happened to the original sources of Euclid's Elements?

I am aware of the fact that Euclid's Elements is a compilation of the works of previous Greek mathematicians like Thales, Pythagoras (his school), Eudoxus, Theaetetus, etc. However, I want to know the ...
57 votes
3 answers
2k views

What is Ptolemy holding in this picture?

I would like to know the name of the device Ptolemy is holding in the following picture. [Image Source]
6 votes
2 answers
406 views

Did Archimedes view fractions as "numbers"?

For quite some time I had the wrong impression that classical Greek mathematicians didn't use fractions. (I don't remember where I had this from.) But I recently looked into Heath's book about ...
7 votes
1 answer
626 views

Were ancient Romans so bad at computations before Arab numerals?

It is often said that Romans (see below) had a terrible number system, which made computations a mess. I do believe this, but I'm suspicious of the claim that nobody had better ways to do computations ...
28 votes
2 answers
4k views

Roman engineers

It is a common opinion that Romans did not contribute anything to exact sciences, but did contribute much to engineering. (How can it be otherwise, anyone who has been on the territory of the former ...
9 votes
2 answers
726 views

How did Romans do multiplications?

The Romans did not have Indian numerals. Worse still, they did not have the decimal system. Yet, they produced amazing works of engineering and architecture. How was that possible? It's troublesome ...
5 votes
2 answers
690 views

When was the diving bell invented?

This question comes from my attempts to give a good answer to the previous question, How was difference in water pressure perceived in ancient cultures or the middle ages? I know from my childhood ...
2 votes
0 answers
104 views

On Ptolemy climes

Reading Dante's Comedy, I was interested in understand a little bit how medieval geography worked, so I decided to have a look at Edward Luther Stevenson's translation of Ptolemy's Geographia. I've ...
2 votes
2 answers
2k views

How did Ptolemy calculate the distance to the Moon?

I've read somewhere that Hipparchus measured the distance to the Moon using the lunar and solar eclipse and obtained a value of around 67.3 Earth radii. It also says that soon after Ptolemy gave a ...
7 votes
2 answers
4k views

Did Aristotle note that ships disappear over the horizon hull-first?

I have run across several references to Aristotle's arguments for a spherical earth which claim that he noted that ships sink over horizon hull-first. For instance, Isaac Asimov writes in his essay ...
6 votes
3 answers
5k views

Why did Aristotle make mistakes in his laws of motion?

I was studying Aristotle's laws of motion and comparing them to Newton's. He states that heavier bodies fall faster than lighter ones. I really can't understand how he could have committed such a ...
1 vote
1 answer
105 views

Gravity before Aristotle

In this wiki article, the history of gravity starts with Aristotle. However, what were the ideas about Earth's gravity and motion of planets before Aristotle?