Person: Salaciense, Pedro Nunes
Pedro Nunes or Nunez was a Portuguese scholar who worked in geometry, spherical trigonometry, algebra as well as geography, physics, and cosmology.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- Nunes travelled to Spain and entered the University of Salamanca around 1517.
- This university, already 300 years old when Nunes began his studies, was one of the leading centres for education in Europe.
- We do not know exactly how long Nunes remained at Salamanca after he graduated but by 1527 he had returned to Portugal.
- Nunes acted as tutor to Luis until July 1531.
- Starting in 1527, Nunes taught navigation skills to Martim Afonso de Sousa, who led the first colonizing expedition to Brazil in 1530, and to another naval officer Joao de Castro.
- On 16 November 1529 king Joao o Piedoso appointed Nunes as "Cosmographer of the Kingdom of Portugal".
- During this period, however, Nunes was working towards a doctorate in medicine and after successfully taking examinations on 16 February 1532 be was awarded his medical doctorate on 3 March.
- It is not entirely clear where Nunes was over the period between 1532 and 1544.
- The first of Nunes books to be published was Tratado da Sphera in 1537.
- In addition Nunes added two works of his own on navigation.
- Nunes taught Henrique from October 1531 until his appointment in Braga.
- The question he had posed to Nunes was "Which day has the shortest twilight?" and it was the question of the duration of twilight that Nunes addressed in De Crepusculis.
- In the preface which he had written to his Libro de Algebra and dedicated to his former pupil the Cardinal Henry, who was then Regent of the country, Nunes states that the publication of this book was delayed by other "very varied" works which, he asserts, had taken his time for several years.
- Nunes moved to the University of Coimbra to take up the Chair of Mathematics on 16 October 1544, a post he held until 1562 although he spent four years away from the University living in Lisbon during the period 1557-61.
- While at Coimbra Nunes taught Christopher Clavius.
- In 1548 the king, Joao o Piedoso, honoured Nunes by naming him Cavaleiro do Hábito de Cristo (Knight of the Order of Christ).
- Soon after moving to Coimbra Nunes published De erratis Orontii Finaei in 1546.
- Around 1550 he made the discovery for which today he is best known, namely his investigation of the loxodrome or, to use the name that Nunes invented, the rhumb line.
- It was Willebrord Snell who named Nunes' rhumb line the loxodrome.
- Nunes devised a system to allow fractional parts of a degree to be measured.
- In 1572 Nunes was called to court to preside over the reform of weights and measures.
- Finally, let us note the friendship between John Dee and Nunes.
Born 1502, Alcácer do Sal, Portugal. Died 11 August 1578, Coimbra, Portugal.
View full biography at MacTutor
Tags relevant for this person:
Ancient Greek, Geography, Geometry, Origin Portugal, Puzzles And Problems
Thank you to the contributors under CC BY-SA 4.0!
Adapted from other CC BY-SA 4.0 Sources:
- O’Connor, John J; Robertson, Edmund F: MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive