Heavenly Mathematics: The Forgotten Art of Spherical Trigonometry

| February 19, 2013 | 0 Comments

Glen Van Brummelen is a Canadian historian of mathematics specializing in historical applications of mathematics to astronomy and his newest book is titled “Heavenly Mathematics: The Forgotten Art of Spherical Trigonometry”. Following the traditions of his previous book “The Mathematics of the Heavens and the Earth“, Glen Van Brummelen delves deep into the history of mathematics, especially its relations to astronomy. At the heart of the ancient astronomy lies the so called Spherical trigonometry– a discipline that was a part of mathematics education for centuries. In his newest book the author explored the importance of spherical trigonometry and how useful it has been in navigation, astronomy and other fields.

Author: Glen Van Brummelen

Paperback: 216

Publisher: Princeton University Press (December 3, 2012)

ISBN-10: 0691148929

ISBN-13: 978-0691148922

Kindle edition: (US|UK)

Reviews: customer reviews

Rating: ★★★★★ Ranking: 25,618 US Version UK Version

About the Author

Glen Van Brummelen is a Canadian historian of mathematics specializing in historical applications of mathematics to astronomy. He earned his PhD degree from Simon Fraser University in 1993, and served as a professor of mathematics at Bennington College from 1999 to 2006. In addition, he is a former president of the Canadian Society for the History and Philosophy of Mathematics.

Editorial Reviews

Heavenly Mathematics is heavenly, is mathematics, and is so much more: history, astronomy, geography, and navigation replete with historical illustrations, elegant diagrams, and charming anecdotes. I haven’t followed mathematical proofs with such delight in decades. If, as the author laments, spherical trigonometry was in danger of extinction, this book will give it a long-lasting reprieve.”–David J. Helfand, president of the American Astronomical Society

Short Review

“Heavenly Mathematics: The Forgotten Art of Spherical Trigonometry” explores the rich history of the forgotten art, revealing how the cultures of classical Greece, medieval Islam, and the modern West used spherical trigonometry to chart the heavens and the Earth for a variety of practical uses. The role of spherical trigonometry in ancient astronomy, geography, and cartography is discussed as well. He conveys the sheer beauty of spherical trigonometry, providing readers with a new appreciation for its elegant proofs and often surprising conclusions.

As most of the reviewers noticed, the author does a great job of reviving the craft of spherical trigonometry, by illustrating its usefulness in a variety of applications. Thus, this book is a great choice for both those with an interest in history and those, who love mathematics. The book is surprisingly readable and the math is not too technical, thus both an amateur mathematician and a professional one will enjoy it.

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