Three-Day Meeting – How do writings in the astral sciences document mathematical practices and practitioners – 2015

These three “one-day” meetings are organised in the context of
the SAW Seminar “History of Science/History of text”

January 15, February 5 and February 19, 2015

Organised by Karine Chemla (SPHERE & SAW project), Matthieu Husson (SYRTE and SAW project), Richard Kremer (Darmouth College and researcher invited by the SAW project),
and the SAW team

Venue: Paris Diderot University, Condorcet Building
10 rue Alice Domon et Léonie Duquet 75013 Paris, Map
Room 646 A  9.30 am — 5.30 pm


In connection with the 3-month SAW workshop on “Mathematical Practices in relation to the Astral Sciences”, the “History of Science/History of Text,” seminar will focus during these three days on written sources related to the astral sciences. The purpose is to understand how these sources document mathematical practices in these contexts, and their practitioners. The (not mutually exclusive) themes will be the following:
Paper technology, clay technology, palm leaf, bamboo, silk, wood, copper technology in the astral sciences. How did practitioners of the astral sciences use supports for writing or other types of support in their activities? Do our sources document how writing supports were used to carry out computations or other operations, to develop reasoning, to make instruments? Do they document other uses of these supports, or how other supports were used?
Three-dimensional objects. What can sources allow us to restore about the three-dimensional objects practitioners used to carry out their activities? We think in particular about spheres used to draw on them, or armillary spheres, used in relation to activities in the astral sciences.
Sources as documents. How, more generally, can sources attest to activities in the astral sciences? Can we identify traces in manuscripts documenting what actors did with them? Or, how can the way a writing refers to other parts in it, or to other writings, allow us to describe authors’ as well as readers/users’ activities with it? Can we identify trajectories of use of a given document, or of a set of documents?
The days will be very informal. Each speaker will be given two hours with at least half of the time devoted to discussion. The purpose is to prepare the publication of a collection of essays in a scientific journal.

ProgrammePdf version with abstracts

January 15, 2015
9.30 am-11.30 am
Sebastian Falk
(Dept. of History and Philosophy of Science, Cambridge)
Amateur astronomers learning with tables: the case of the
Equatorie of the Planetis
11.45 am-1 pm/ 2.15 pm-3 pm
Matthieu Husson (CNRS-SYRTE, Observatoire de Paris and SAW project)
John of Murs’ eclipse computation in the Escorial O II 10
3.15 pm -5.15 pm
Richard Kremer (Darmouth College and researcher invited by the SAW project)
Dialing, geometry and proof in early 16th-century Europe: Stabius’s paper instruments

February 5, 2015
To display the full four pages “bande dessinée” by Clemency Montelle, an account of a memorable day work at the bench, click on the image (a 2Mo pdf).
9.30 am-11.30 am
Daniel Morgan (ERC-SAW, SPHERE)
Sphere Confusion: The Textual Reconstruction of First-millennium hun Instruments
11.45 am -1 pm/2.15 pm -3.00pm 
Sho Hirose (ERC-SAW, SPHERE)
What were the functions of the armillary sphere in Paramesvara’s Goladīpikā?
3.15 pm-5 pm
Nathan Sidoli (Wasada University, Tokyo, and researcher invited by the SAW project)
The use of physical devices to do computa
tion. Selections from Ptolemy’s Analemma, and Heron’s Dioptra 35

February 19, 2015
9.30 am-11.30 am
Li Liang (Beijing Institute for the History of Natural Science and researcher invited by the SAW project)
Procedural table as a tool: The calculations in Chinese calendric astronomy
11.45 / 2.15 pm-3 pm
Mathieu Ossendrijver (Berlin Humboldt University, Topoi, and researcher invited by the SAW project)
Astronomical tables of the spread sheet type
3.15 pm-5.15 pm
Matthias Hayek (CRCAO, Université Paris Diderot)
Rotating Disks and Straight Rulers: Paper Instruments in Japanese Early Modern Divination Manuals

Programme with abstracts