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Francisco Maurolico

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16 Sept 1494

Messina, Italy

22 July 1575

Messina, Italy

Francisco Maurolico was ordained a priest in 1521. He later became a Benedictine and lived his whole life in Sicily except for short periods in Rome and Naples. He served as head of the mint in Sicily, he was in charge of the fortifications of Messina and was appoined to write a history of Sicily.

Maurolico wrote important books on Greek mathematics, restored many ancient works from scant information and translated many ancient texts such as those by Theodosius , Menelaus , Autolycus , Euclid , Apollonius and Archimedes .

He gave a table of secants and, although Delambre credited him with the first use of this function, it had appeared earlier in the work of Copernicus .

Maurolico also worked on geometry, the theory of numbers ( L E Dickson notes some of his results), optics, conics and mechanics, writing important books on these topics.

Maurolico gave methods for measuring the Earth in Cosmographia which were later used by Jean Picard in measuring the meridian in 1670. He made astronomical observations, in particular he observed the supernova which appeared in Cassiopeia in 1572 now known as 'Tycho's supernova'. Tycho Brahe published details of his observations in 1574. Some details of Maurolico's observations were published by Clavius but full details of Maurolico's observations were never published and only rediscovered comparatively recently.

Source:School of Mathematics and Statistics University of St Andrews, Scotland