Getting Medieval with Math: Gerbert d'Aurillac and Nicolas Oresme, two beacons of light in the so-called Dark Ages

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This lecture dispels the popular myth that the Middle Ages was a prolonged era of scientific darkness. It looks at two prominent medieval scientists, Gerbert d'Aurillac (c. 946-1003) and Nicole Oresme (c. 1320-1382). Gerbert is famously credited with reintroducing the abacus to Europe and with disseminating Arab knowledge of arithmetic, mathematics, and astronomy. He is also notable because he went on to become the first French pope, taking the name Sylvester II. Nicole, who lived three centuries after Gerbert, was a prominent late medieval philosopher, economist, early physicist, astronomer, mathematician, and translator. He became counselor to King Charles V of France at a time when all the great leaders of the western world employed astronomers.

Steven Bednarski

Discipline: 
History

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Steven Bednarski is a social and cultural historian of crime and gender specializing in the fourteenth century. He works on late medieval Provence, reading documents preserved in archives and has published on crime, justice, wife assault and child abuse, adultery, caesarean-section, lying, witchcraft, notaries, masculinities, gendered education and fatherhood. He has two books forthcoming, one that looks at the evolution of late medieval justice from the point of view of a court, the other that teaches the historical method through microhistory. He is Associate Professor of Medieval History at St. Jerome's University in the University of Waterloo.

Benoit Charbonneau

Discipline: 
Mathematics

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Benoit Charbonneau is Assistant Professor of Mathematics at St. Jerome's University and a member of the Pure Mathematics Department at the University of Waterloo. He is a differential geometer, and studies more specifically gauge theory and geometric analysis. His research centres on the intersection between mathematics and high-energy physics. He also collaborates on interdisciplinary efforts that focus on understanding glass formation and has developed the St. Jerome's Bridge Lecture Series to foster wider scientific education.

Date/Time: 
Thursday, September 22, 2011 - 7:30pm
Location: 
St. Jerome's University
Sponsored by: 

St. Jerome's University
Canadian Mathematical Society