Physics Colloquium Series
- Friday, February 15, 2013 at 4:10pm
- Barnard Hall - view map
Dr. Ran Sivron from Baker University will present "Palladius and Roman Sundials:How 36 numbers help us understand the history of science and the ancient world".
Professor John Richards, a history professor in my college, discovered a detailed table of 132 shadow lengths of vertical sundials in a book by Palladius (11 hours x 12 months). The book was the most widely used agricultural almanac from 400AD and all the way to the 17th century. My student and I employed spherical trigonometry and statistical methods used in modern astrophysics to determine where and how Palladius conducted his observations. In the process we discovered curious facts about how Romans measured time and built sundials. We may have even uncovered evidence for early use of spherical trigonometry, Ptolemi's model, or alternately a series of funny but unfortunate mistakes.
- Sarah Barutha