Luca Valerio's scientific career

In 1991 Ugo Baldini and Pier Daniele Napolitani published Toward a biography of Luca Valerio : published and unpublished sources for a reconstruction of his scientific career (Italian), Boll. Storia Sci. Mat. 11 (1) (1991).

The following is taken from the Introduction:-


Luca Valerio may without a doubt be considered one of the most important figures produced by the renaissance in mathematics and mechanics that took place in Italy in the 16th century. In fact, his work represents, at least for the Archimedean tradition, the apex of that intellectual movement, in the sense that with it a series of themes that had appeared throughout the mathematics of the Cinquecento were brought to maturity, a level to which subsequent research would necessarily have to raise the framework of Renaissance mathematics, which was oriented especially toward rediscovery and translation of, and commentary on, classical texts.

As of the 17th century, the importance of Valerio's research had not escaped the attention of mathematicians, historians and scholars, and the bibliography on him is quite abundant. In spite of the great number of studies concerning Valerio and his work, however, the current state of research is disappointing. We will not tackle here the problem of the interpretation and analysis of his texts, observing only that most of the available studies are heavily conditioned by the 'precursorist' interpretation given by H Bosmans (1913), an interpretation that, curiously, is still reflected in recent works, such as the 'Valerio Luca' entry in the Dictionary of scientific biography. Moreover, leaving aside the problem of historiographical approach, one cannot fail to note that there exists no thorough study of Valerio's major work, De centro gravitatis solidorum libri tres.

In this paper we present a series of unpublished materials that should help to shed light on some of the questions raised above, especially on the connections between Valerio and the Society of Jesus, on his academic career, on his relations with Margherita Sarrocchi and on some related matters.


JOC/EFR March 2006

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