Joost Bürgi

Born: 28 Feb 1552 in Liechtenstein, Switzerland
Died: 31 Jan 1632 in Kassel, Hesse-Kassel (now Germany)

[Mathematiker Bild]

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Bürgi was the most skilful, and the most famous, clockmaker of his day. He also made important scientific instruments, notably for the Landgraf of Hesse-Kassel Wilhelm der Weise, who combined ruling his state with being a first class astronomer. (Although historians do not usually mention the fact, the Landgraf's observations, particularly those of the fixed stars, were on the whole at least as accurate as Tycho Brahe's)

Later Bürgi also worked for the Holy Roman Emperor Rudolph II, and his successor Matthias (in Prague). Bürgi took a serious interest in mathematics, and it was to him that Johannes Kepler (1571 -1630), then Imperial Mathematician, was indebted for his introduction to Algebra. In exchange (as it were) it seems to have been Kepler who persuaded Bürgi into writing up his original and interesting work on logarithms (the manuscript is largely in Kepler's handwriting), printed in 1620. Bürgi's method is different from that of Napier and was clearly invented independently.

Article by: J. V. Field, London, August 1995

References (12 books/articles)

References elsewhere in this archive:

There is a Rima Burg on the moon. You can see a list of lunar features named after mathematicians.

Other Web sites:

Rice University, USA

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JOC/EFR December 1996