The Works of Galileo

Foundations of Mathematical Physics

Mathematics: Euclid, some early editions.

The first printed edition of Euclid’s Elements was published in Venice in 1482, only two decades after Gutenberg, with beautiful woodcuts, hand-colored (Figure 1) . The printer Erhard Ratdolt used copper wires in plaster blocks to print mathematical diagrams. Before this, without numerous diagrams, how could anyone print scientific works?

The Medici press in Rome printed an Arabic version of Euclid in 1594 (Figure 2) . Printing Arabic characters with removable type was something of a technological feat. (Figure 3)

The first English printing of Euclid was by the notorious mathematician and scholar of the occult, John Dee, in 1570 (Figure 4) . This copy still has the first pop-ups! (Figure 5) (Figure 6) What a great way to learn solid geometry.

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Euclid, 1482.

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Figure 2 Figure 2 - Return to Text

Euclid, 1594.

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Euclid, 1594.

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Euclid, 1570.

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Figure 5 Figure 5 - Return to Text

Euclid, 1570.

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Figure 6 Figure 6 - Return to Text

Euclid, 1570.

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Exhibit credit: Kerry Magruder, with the assistance of , Marilyn B. Ogilvie, Duane H. D. Roller.

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These teaching resources provided by the History of Science Department at the University of Oklahoma.

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