Sir Thomas Little Heath was a
BritishThe United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...
civil servant,
mathematicianA mathematician is a person whose primary area of study is the field of mathematics. Mathematicians are concerned with quantity, structure, space, and change....
,
classicalClassics is the branch of the Humanities comprising the languages, literature, philosophy, history, art, archaeology and other culture of the ancient Mediterranean world ; especially Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome during Classical Antiquity Classics (sometimes encompassing Classical Studies or...
scholar,
historianA historian is a person who studies and writes about the past and is regarded as an authority on it. Historians are concerned with the continuous, methodical narrative and research of past events as relating to the human race; as well as the study of all history in time. If the individual is...
of ancient
Greek mathematicsGreek mathematics, as that term is used in this article, is the mathematics written in Greek, developed from the 7th century BC to the 4th century AD around the Eastern shores of the Mediterranean. Greek mathematicians lived in cities spread over the entire Eastern Mediterranean, from Italy to...
, translator, and
mountaineerMountaineering or mountain climbing is the sport, hobby or profession of hiking, skiing, and climbing mountains. While mountaineering began as attempts to reach the highest point of unclimbed mountains it has branched into specialisations that address different aspects of the mountain and consists...
. He was educated at
Clifton CollegeClifton College is a co-educational independent school in Clifton, Bristol, England, founded in 1862. In its early years it was notable for emphasising science in the curriculum, and for being less concerned with social elitism, e.g. by admitting day-boys on equal terms and providing a dedicated...
. Heath translated works of
EuclidEuclid , fl. 300 BC, also known as Euclid of Alexandria, was a Greek mathematician, often referred to as the "Father of Geometry". He was active in Alexandria during the reign of Ptolemy I...
of Alexandria,
Apollonius of PergaApollonius of Perga [Pergaeus] was a Greek geometer and astronomer noted for his writings on conic sections. His innovative methodology and terminology, especially in the field of conics, influenced many later scholars including Ptolemy, Francesco Maurolico, Isaac Newton, and René Descartes...
,
Aristarchus of SamosAristarchus, or more correctly Aristarchos , was a Greek astronomer and mathematician, born on the island of Samos, in Greece. He presented the first known heliocentric model of the solar system, placing the Sun, not the Earth, at the center of the known universe...
, and
ArchimedesArchimedes of Syracuse was a Greek mathematician, physicist, engineer, inventor, and astronomer. Although few details of his life are known, he is regarded as one of the leading scientists in classical antiquity. Among his advances in physics are the foundations of hydrostatics, statics and an...
of
SyracuseSyracuse is a historic city in Sicily, the capital of the province of Syracuse. The city is notable for its rich Greek history, culture, amphitheatres, architecture, and as the birthplace of the preeminent mathematician and engineer Archimedes. This 2,700-year-old city played a key role in...
into
EnglishEnglish is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...
.
He was born in Barnetby-le-Wold,
LincolnshireLincolnshire is a county in the east of England. It borders Norfolk to the south east, Cambridgeshire to the south, Rutland to the south west, Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire to the west, South Yorkshire to the north west, and the East Riding of Yorkshire to the north. It also borders...
, England, the son of a farmer, Samuel Heath. He was educated at
Caistor Grammar SchoolCaistor Grammar School is a selective school and academy in the English town of Caistor in the county of Lincolnshire. It was founded in 1630, and has since grown to be one of the most respected and high performing schools in the East of England. The school has been awarded specialist sports and...
and
Clifton CollegeClifton College is a co-educational independent school in Clifton, Bristol, England, founded in 1862. In its early years it was notable for emphasising science in the curriculum, and for being less concerned with social elitism, e.g. by admitting day-boys on equal terms and providing a dedicated...
before entering
Trinity College, CambridgeTrinity College is a constituent college of the University of Cambridge. Trinity has more members than any other college in Cambridge or Oxford, with around 700 undergraduates, 430 graduates, and over 170 Fellows...
, where he was awarded a DSc and became a Fellow. In 1884 he took the Civil Service examination and became an Assistant Secretary to the Treasury, becoming Permanent Secretary in 1913. He left the Treasury in 1919 for the National Debt Office, holding a post there until he retired in 1926. He was honoured for his work in the Civil Service by being appointed C.B. in 1903, K.C.B. in 1909, and K.C.V.O. in 1916.
He was distinguished for his work in Greek Mathematics and author several books on Greek mathematicians. It is primarily through Heath's translations that modern English-speaking readers are aware of what Archimedes did. His translation of the celebrated
Archimedes PalimpsestThe Archimedes Palimpsest is a palimpsest on parchment in the form of a codex. It originally was a copy of an otherwise unknown work of the ancient mathematician, physicist, and engineer Archimedes of Syracuse and other authors, which was overwritten with a religious text.Archimedes lived in the...
, however, was based on a transcription that had
lacunaA lacunaPlural lacunae. From Latin lacūna , diminutive form of lacus . is a gap in a manuscript, inscription, text, painting, or a musical work...
e, which scholars such as Reviel Netz have been able to fill in to a certain extent, by exploiting modern scientific methods of imagery not available in Heath's time.
When Heath's
Works of Archimedes was published in 1897, the Archimedes Palimpsest had not been extensively explored. Its significance was not recognized until 1906, when it was examined by the
DanishDenmark is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe. The countries of Denmark and Greenland, as well as the Faroe Islands, constitute the Kingdom of Denmark . It is the southernmost of the Nordic countries, southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and bordered to the south by Germany. Denmark...
professor
Johan Ludvig HeibergJohan Ludvig Heiberg was a Danish philologist and historian. He is best known for his discovery of previously unknown texts in the Archimedes Palimpsest, and for his edition of Euclid's Elements that T. L. Heath translated into English...
. The palimpsest contained an extended version of
Stomachion, and a treatise entitled
The Method of Mechanical Theorems that had previously been thought lost. These works have therefore been the focus of research by modern scholars.
He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in May 1912.
He died in
AshteadAshtead is a village situated within the Metropolitan Green Belt of Surrey, England, and is just outside of the suburbia of London. It is separated from Leatherhead by the M25, and from Epsom by Ashtead Common.- History :...
,
SurreySurrey is a county in the South East of England and is one of the Home Counties. The county borders Greater London, Kent, East Sussex, West Sussex, Hampshire and Berkshire. The historic county town is Guildford. Surrey County Council sits at Kingston upon Thames, although this has been part of...
. He had married professional musician Ada Mary Thomas in 1914; they had a son and a daughter.
Translations and other works
Note: Only first editions are listed; many of these titles have been reprinted several times.
- Diophantus of Alexandria: a Study in the History of Greek Algebra (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1885)
- Apollonius of Perga
Apollonius of Perga [Pergaeus] was a Greek geometer and astronomer noted for his writings on conic sections. His innovative methodology and terminology, especially in the field of conics, influenced many later scholars including Ptolemy, Francesco Maurolico, Isaac Newton, and René Descartes...
: Treatise on Conic Sections (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1896)
- Archimedes
Archimedes of Syracuse was a Greek mathematician, physicist, engineer, inventor, and astronomer. Although few details of his life are known, he is regarded as one of the leading scientists in classical antiquity. Among his advances in physics are the foundations of hydrostatics, statics and an...
: Works (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1897)
- Euclid
Euclid , fl. 300 BC, also known as Euclid of Alexandria, was a Greek mathematician, often referred to as the "Father of Geometry". He was active in Alexandria during the reign of Ptolemy I...
The thirteen books of Euclid's ElementsEuclid's Elements is a mathematical and geometric treatise consisting of 13 books written by the Greek mathematician Euclid in Alexandria c. 300 BC. It is a collection of definitions, postulates , propositions , and mathematical proofs of the propositions...
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1908)
- Aristarchus of Samos
Aristarchus, or more correctly Aristarchos , was a Greek astronomer and mathematician, born on the island of Samos, in Greece. He presented the first known heliocentric model of the solar system, placing the Sun, not the Earth, at the center of the known universe...
, the Ancient Copernicus Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1913)
- A History of Greek Mathematics (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1921)
- A Manual of Greek Mathematics (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1931)
- Greek Astronomy (London: J.M. Dent & Sons, 1932)
- Mathematics in Aristotle (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1949)
External links
Online texts of Heath's books
About T.L. Heath