Thomas Harriot

harriotIn the course of reading the remarkable non-fiction classic and pulitzer prize winning book “The Swerve”, author Stephen Greenblatt remarks that the famous and possibly crazy Dominican monk Giordano Bruno probably met the English mathematician and scientist Thomas Harriot, who among other things 1) first drew the surface of the Moon, 2) first viewed and drew sunspots, 3) discovered (contemporaneously with Galileo) the four main moons of Jupiter, 4) proposed (contemporaneously with Kepler) that planetary orbits are elliptical, not circular, 5) discovered the Law of Refraction (twenty years before Snell), and 6) first introduce negative (or imaginary) square roots into algebra.

What Harriot didn’t do was publish any of his findings!

Author: Bob Mahoney

Physics teacher

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