Thomas Digges

Born: 1546 in Wotton (near Canterbury), Kent, England
Died: 24 Aug 1595 in London, England

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Thomas Digges received his early education from his father who himself was a good scientist writing on surveying. Thomas later received advanced mathematical instruction from John Dee. He was to remain a friend of Dee's and undertook joint work with him.

Digges wrote on platonic solids and archimedian solids which appear in Pantometria (1571). This work includes contributions by Digges's father.

In 1573 Digges published Alae seu scalae mathematicae , a work on the position of the 'Tycho (Brahe)'s supernova' of 1572. This work includes observations of the position of the 'new star' and trigonometric theorems which could be used to determine the parallax of the star. The observations are particularly impressive making Digges the ablest observer of his time. Digges's friend Dee published a similar work on the supernova.

Digges was the leader of the English Copernicans. He translated part of Copernicus's De revolutionibus and added his own ideas of an infinite universe with the stars at varying distances an infinite space. He published A Perfit Description of the Caelestial Orbes in 1576 which again restates Copernicus's views.

As well as having a military career, Digges also wrote and worked on other military matters. His book Stratioticos (1579) is a mathematics book for soldiers and contains the first discussion of ballistics in a work published in England. He also worked on fortifications, being in charge of the fortification of Dover harbour in 1582. A year earlier he had been involved in producing plans for Dover castle.

Digges was a member of parliament from 1572 and again in 1584. His military career was with the English forces in the Netherlands from 1586 to 1594. The modern state of the Netherlands came into existence with the Treaty of Utrecht in 1579. This was the year Digges wrote his military work Stratioticos which he dedicated to Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester. Dudley was named governor-general of the Netherlands in 1586 and Dudley appointed Digges to be master-general of his army to assist him in the campaign.

References (7 books/articles)

References elsewhere in this archive:

Tell me about the Platonic solids

Tell me about some semi-regular (or Archimedean) solids

Other Web sites:

Rice University, USA

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JOC/EFR December 1996