History of Physics



We engage in research on history of physical concepts and ideas, especially in pre-modern times and including non-European cultures. The aim of our research is to analyse the intellectual and cultural stimuli and constraints physicists were subject to in various periods of human history, from ancient, through medieval to modern times and in various cultural, religious, and ideological environments, and to explore the interrelationship between these ideas and the world-views prevailing at that time.

Selection topics investigated:

  • Astronomy and calender of the Maya: During the classical period the Maya had a very high developed scipt and a calendar system based on astronomical observations.
  • Calendar table in Stift Rein: A big stone calendar table shows both the Julian and the Gregorian dates for the years 1600 to 1800. In addition a lot of astronomical and religious information is given.
  • Medieval planetary diagram MS 38 from the University of Graz Library:
    Maunscript from the 12th century with a very special tabula astronomica summarizing the astronomical knowledge of that time.
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  • Peter Apian and his Astronomicum Caesareum:

    Peter Apian was a German humanist and famous for his works in mathematics, astronomy and cartography. One of his most famous works, the Astronomicum Caesareum, describes the mechanics of a geocentric universe and is one of the most beautiful scientific books of the sixteenth-century printing. Recently a unique manuscript with all volvelles of Peter Apians Astronomicum Caesareum has been found in Stift Rein near Graz.

  • Leopold Gottlieb Biwald:
    1731 - 1805; Professor of Physics at the University of Graz;
    most important work: Physica generalis, a physics textbook used in the whole monarchy;
    German translation of Biwalds "Physica Generalis" (1769)

Last update: 2014-10-23 home