George von Peuerbach
(Also Peurbach, Purbach, Purbachius)
Austrian astronomer, b. at Peuerbach near Linz, 30 May, 1423; d. in Vienna, 8 April, 1461. His real family name, as well as his early schooling, is unknown. About the year 1440 he received the degree of master of philosophy and the free arts, cum insigni laude , at the University of Vienna . His teacher in mathematics was probably Johann von Gmüden. In 1448 he went on a trip to Italy for the sake of study. There Bianchini of Ferrara and Cardinal Nicholas of Cusa , then in Rome, became interested in the young man an induced him to lecture on astronomy at the University of Ferrara. He refused offers of professorships at Bologna and Padua, and also the appointment as court astronomber to King Ladislaus of Hungary, but went back to Vienna in 1450 to teach. He lectured on philology and classical literature. His scientific teaching was done chiefly in private, his most famous pupil being Johann Müller of Königsberg, later known as Regiomontanus. Peuerbach has been called the father of observational and mathematical astronomy in the West. He began to work up Ptolemy's "Almagest", replacing chords by sines, and calculating tables of sines for every minute of arc for a radius of 600,000 units. This was the first transition from the duodecimal to the decimal system. His observations were made with very simple instruments, an ordinary plumb-line being used for measuring the angles of elevation of the stars. Cardinal Bessarion invited him to Rome to study Ptolemy in the original Greek and not from a faulty Latin translation. He accepted on condition that Müller go with him. On account of the master's death the pupil went alone to complete the work.
Peuerbach is also noted for his great attempt to reconcile the opposing thoeries of the universe, the so-called homocentric speres of Eudoxus and Aristotle, with Ptolemy's epicyclic trains. This work, "Theoricæ, etc.", had an enormous success and remained the basis of academic instruction in astronomy until years after Copernicus had swept away all these hypotheses. Twenty works are known. Among these the following are the most important: "Theoricæ novæ planetarum, id est septem errantium siderum nec non octavi seu firmamenti" (1st ed., Nuremberg, 1460, followed by many others in Milan and Ingolstadt); "Sex primi libri epitomatis Almagesti", completed by Regiomontanus (Venice, 1496; Basle, 1534; Nuremberg, 1550); "Tabulæ eclypsium super meridiano Viennensi" (2nd ed., Vienna, 1514); "Quadratum goemetricum meridiano" (Nuremberg, 1516); "Nova tabula sinus de decem minutis in decem per multas, etc.", completed by Regiomontanus (Nuremberg, 1541).
More Catholic Encyclopedia
Browse Encyclopedia by Alphabet
The Catholic Encyclopedia is the most comprehensive resource on Catholic teaching, history, and information ever gathered in all of human history. This easy-to-search online version was originally printed in fifteen hardcopy volumes.
Designed to present its readers with the full body of Catholic teaching, the Encyclopedia contains not only precise statements of what the Church has defined, but also an impartial record of different views of acknowledged authority on all disputed questions, national, political or factional. In the determination of the truth the most recent and acknowledged scientific methods are employed, and the results of the latest research in theology, philosophy, history, apologetics, archaeology, and other sciences are given careful consideration.
No one who is interested in human history, past and present, can ignore the Catholic Church, either as an institution which has been the central figure in the civilized world for nearly two thousand years, decisively affecting its destinies, religious, literary, scientific, social and political, or as an existing power whose influence and activity extend to every part of the globe. In the past century the Church has grown both extensively and intensively among English-speaking peoples. Their living interests demand that they should have the means of informing themselves about this vast institution, which, whether they are Catholics or not, affects their fortunes and their destiny.
Browse the Catholic Encyclopedia by Topic
Copyright © Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company New York, NY. Volume 1: 1907; Volume 2: 1907; Volume 3: 1908; Volume 4: 1908; Volume 5: 1909; Volume 6: 1909; Volume 7: 1910; Volume 8: 1910; Volume 9: 1910; Volume 10: 1911; Volume 11: - 1911; Volume 12: - 1911; Volume 13: - 1912; Volume 14: 1912; Volume 15: 1912
Catholic Online Catholic Encyclopedia Digital version Compiled and Copyright © Catholic Online