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Adelard of Bath

Adelard of Bath was a 12th century English scholar who traveled widely, especially to Islamic lands. He studied at Tours and taught at Laon. In addition to original work (some of which he attributed to Islamic scholars), he translated Islamic works of astrology, astronomy and mathematics. His works were written in Latin.

He wrote a short treatise on the abacus (Regulae abaci, but his best known works are Questiones naturalis (Natural Questions), a work in the form of a Platonic dialogue and De eodem et diverso a work which contrasts the virtues of the seven liberal arts with worldly interests.

His translations include the works of Euclid and al-Khwarizmi.

In Natural Questions he displays some original thought of a scientific bent, raising the question of the shape of the Earth (he believed it round) and the question of how it remains stationary in space, and also the interesting question of how far a rock would fall if a hole were drilled through the earth and a rock dropped in it, see center of gravity. Also the interesting question of why water experiences difficulty flowing out of a container that has been turned upside down, see atmospheric pressure and vacuum. Many of the other questions addressed reflect the popular culture of the times.

Further Reading

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