Person: Werner, Johann
Johann Werner was a German mathematician whose main work was on astronomy, mathematics and geography.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- The university had been founded just four years after Werner's birth; in fact this university moved to Landshut in 1800 and then to Munich in 1826 becoming the present University of Munich.
- After studying in Ingolstadt, Werner was appointed chaplain in Herzogenaurach in 1490.
- He became the parish priest at a small church in Wöhrd, just outside the city, in 1503 but by 1508 he was the priest at the Church of St John (St Johannis) in the city of Nuremberg.
- Werner's main scientific work was on astronomy, mathematics and geography.
- Werner's most famous work on astronomy and geography is In Hoc Opere Haec Continentur Nova Translatio Primi Libri Geographicae Cl Ptolomaei Ⓣ(In the First Book of this work is a translation of the New Geography of Ptolemy) written in 1514.
- This book contains a translation of the Ptolemy's Geography with a commentary by Werner himself.
- In addition, Werner suggested using the position of the Moon between the stars or the distance of the Moon from the Sun to allow an absolute time to be calculated.
- Later Peter Apianus and Gemma Frisius adopted Werner's ideas on determining longitude but when Werner suggested these ideas they were not really practical as sufficiently precise ephemeres could not be prepared.
- Werner suggested using for these measurements a cross-staff of the type which sailors already used for determining the latitude of a ship at sea by measuring the height of the pole star.
- In mathematics Werner worked on spherical trigonometry and conic sections.
- Some historians have suggested that Werner was the last writer in the medieval tradition of conic sections to produce anything original.
- He seems to have based his ideas on work by Giorgio Valla, on the Speculi almukefi compositio Ⓣ(Treatise on a parabolic mirror) (in Regiomontanus's version), as well as on the short but influential anonymous work De duabus lineis Ⓣ(On a pair of lines) whch had been translated by Johannes of Palermo, a member of Frederick II's court along with Fibonacci in the early thirteenth century.
- Werner's selection of the particular parts of the material to be included in his own work was largely based on what he needed for those parts of his omnibus volume of 1522 on the duplication of the cube and the section of the sphere.
- Werner's work was not much cited at the time but this is most likely because a translation of the Conics of Apollonius soon led to it being superfluous.
- Werner studied several other topics and we mention one, namely weather forecasting.
- Many consider Werner as a pioneer of modern meteorology and weather forecasting.
Born 14 February 1468, Nuremberg, Germany. Died May 1522, Nuremberg, Germany.
View full biography at MacTutor
Tags relevant for this person:
Astronomy, Geography, Origin Germany
Adapted from other CC BY-SA 4.0 Sources:
- O’Connor, John J; Robertson, Edmund F: MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive