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Thomas Hariot, the Mathematician, the Philosopher and the Scholar   By: (1819-1886)

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Thomas Hariot, the Mathematician, the Philosopher and the Scholar by Henry Stevens is a highly informative and comprehensive biography that delves into the life and accomplishments of the unsung hero, Thomas Hariot. Stevens' meticulous research and engaging storytelling make this book an invaluable resource for anyone interested in the history of science and the Renaissance era.

The author starts by painting a vivid picture of the political and intellectual landscape during Hariot's time, setting the stage for the reader to understand the challenges and opportunities that shaped his life. Stevens skillfully weaves together historical facts, anecdotes, and personal letters, bringing Hariot's story to life and painting a captivating image of a man ahead of his time.

One of the book's greatest strengths is its detailed exploration of Hariot's contributions to mathematics and astronomy. Stevens takes us on a journey through Hariot's groundbreaking work on algebra, navigation, optics, and his meticulous observations of the moon through his telescope. It is truly awe-inspiring to learn about Hariot's extraordinary mathematical mind and his commitment to advancing human knowledge.

Furthermore, Stevens skillfully highlights Hariot's deep interest and involvement in the exploration of the New World. The author sheds light on Hariot's role in Sir Walter Raleigh's voyages to North America, his interactions with Native Americans, and his attempts to create a more accurate map of the region. This aspect of Hariot's life adds a fascinating dimension to the biography, showcasing his versatility as a scholar and his insatiable curiosity about the world.

While the book celebrates Hariot's many accomplishments, it also delves into the challenges he faced during his lifetime. Hariot's refusal to conform to societal norms and beliefs often left him isolated and overshadowed by his peers. Stevens does an excellent job of capturing the frustrations and setbacks Hariot experienced, ultimately providing a nuanced portrayal of a brilliant but underappreciated figure in history.

One minor criticism of the book is that at times, the author may delve into overly technical descriptions of Hariot's mathematical theories, making it slightly challenging for readers without a strong scientific background to fully grasp the concepts. However, this does not detract from the overall enjoyment or depth of the biography.

In conclusion, Thomas Hariot, the Mathematician, the Philosopher, and the Scholar is an impressive and meticulously researched biography that brings to light the life and work of a man whose contributions were, until now, largely overlooked. Henry Stevens' writing style and attention to detail make this book a must-read for anyone interested in the history of science and the extraordinary individuals who shaped our understanding of the world.

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This eBook was produced by Norm Wolcott.

Thomas Hariot

[Redactor's note: Very little is known of Thomas Hariot; his only published works are the 'Briefe and true report' (PG4247) and the posthumous 'Praxis', a handbook of algebra. He anticipated the law of refraction, corresponded with Kepler, observed comets, and may have been the first to recognize that the straight line paths of comets might be segments of elongated ellipses. The lost 'ephemera' referred to in the text have since been found (since 1876) and a conference was held in 1970 at the University of Delaware on the current state of Hariot research, the proceedings of which have been published by the Oxford University Press, where one may find a fairly current view of the historical record. Due to the large number of quotations and early english typography, the casual reader may find the 'html' version easier to follow than the text version.]


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