Person: Digges, Thomas
Thomas Digges was an English mathematician who wrote on platonic and archimedian solids. He became the leader of the English supporters of Copernicus.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- Digges wrote on platonic solids and archimedian solids and his contributions appear in Pantometria Ⓣ(Universal measurement) which he finished in 1571.
- The completed work contains Digges' description of how lenses could be combined to make a telescope.
- Although Digges and Dee were working together at this time making accurate astronomical observations there is no evidence that they actually constructed a telescope with which to observe celestial objects.
- We know that Digges, among other instruments used a cross-staff to determine the positions of stars, planets and comets but when a new star appeared in 1572 he used a six foot ruler which he suspended from a tree which he used to determine whether the new star moved in relation to the other stars close to in in the sky.
- In 1573 Digges published Alae seu scalae mathematicae Ⓣ(Mathematical wings or scales), a work on the position of the new star which is often called Tycho Brahe's supernova of 1572 since Brahe also observed the star and determined its position accurately.
- Digges' work includes observations of the position of the 'new star' and trigonometric theorems which could be used to determine the parallax of the star.
- The observations are particularly impressive making Digges one of the ablest observers of his time.
- Digges's friend Dee published a similar work on the supernova and the two works were often put in a single binding by booksellers and sold as a single volume.
- The observations to determine the parallax of the star made by Digges and others confirmed that the star could not be between the sphere of the moon and the Earth, and this was the only place that, acording to the views of the time, change could take place.
- Digges was quick to point out that this new star, which slowly began to fade from view in 1573, provided the ideal observational evidence to allow alternative theories of the universe to be considered.
- Digges became the leader of the English Copernicans and used his observations of the supernova to justify the heliocentric system.
- Digges wrote to William Cecil, the leading statesman of the Elizabethean era, requesting support for the astronomical work he was carrying out.
- Digges published A Perfit Description of the Caelestial Orbes in 1576 which again restates Copernicus's views.
- As well as having a military career, Digges also wrote and worked on other military matters.
- Digges was a member of parliament from 1572 and again in 1584.
- This was the year Digges wrote his military work Stratioticos Ⓣ(On soldiering) which he dedicated to Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester.
- Dudley was named governor-general of the Netherlands in 1586 and Dudley appointed Digges to be master-general of his army to assist him in the campaign.
Born 1546, Wootton, Kent, England. Died 24 August 1595, London, England.
View full biography at MacTutor
Tags relevant for this person:
Astronomy, Origin England
Adapted from other CC BY-SA 4.0 Sources:
- O’Connor, John J; Robertson, Edmund F: MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive