Information

Pedro Nunes Salaciense


Pedro Nunes was born in the year 1502 in Alcácer do Sal (Portugal), former Salacia, reason why the toponym "Salaciense" was added to its name. Although descended from Israelites, he always witnessed the Christian faith. Of his childhood nothing is known, and of schooling there are few certainties. It is believed that he had learned in Portugal the first letters, Latin and the subjects of the Arts course, doing university studies in Salamanca (between 1521 and 1522), at an early age.

He married at 21, after graduating in Arts. He studied mathematics and attended some medical courses. He graduated in Medicine in 1525. In November 1529, he was appointed Kingdom cosmographer and, a month later, by competition, led the chair of Moral Philosophy at the University of Lisbon.

In 1537 Nunes moved to the University of Coimbra for a Mathematics chair where he remained until 1562. It was a new post at the university, which was created to provide instruction on the technical requirements for navigation, obviously a matter of great importance in Portugal at that time when sea control was a great Portuguese virtue. In addition to this post, he was appointed Royal Cosmographer in 1529 and Royal Chief Cosmographer in 1547. He remained in this post until his death.

Nunes worked with geometry and trigonometry on the sphere, publishing the work Treatise on the Sphere. He has also done important work in algebra and published Algebra in Spanish. Outside mathematics, he studied geography, physics, cosmology and wrote poetry. Also made an important contribution to navigation by writing Navigandi Libri Duo in 1546.

He invented various instruments for the art of sailing, such as Nónio, and wrote many books, focusing on various subjects, such as nature, geography, mathematics, among which stand out some titles of works that have become famous: "Book of Algebra in Arithmetic and geometry "," Treated for the Maritime Charter "," De crepusculis "," Tablets of the Movement of the Sun "," First Book of Geography - Commented Translation "and" Treatise of the Sphere - Sun and Moon Theory ".

Bibliography: MacTutor History of Mathematics archive.