By Constable &. Robinson
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Extra resources for The 100 Most Influential Scientists
The son of a wealthy architect, Galen was educated as a philosopher and man of letters. His hometown, Pergamum, Anatolia (now Bergama, Turkey), was the site of a magnificent shrine of the healing god, Asclepius, that was visited by many distinguished figures of the Roman Empire for cures. When Galen was 16, he changed his career to that of medicine, which THE 100 MOST INFLUENTI A L SC IENTI STS 27 he studied at Pergamum, at Smyrna (modern Izmir, Turkey), and finally at Alexandria in Egypt, which was the greatest medical centre of the ancient world.
Beginning with 22 new definitions - such as unity, even, odd, and prime - these books develop various properties of the positive integers. For instance, Book VII describes a method, antanaresis (now known as the Euclidean algorithm), for finding the greatest common divisor of two or more numbers; Book VIII examines numbers in continued proportions, now known as geometric sequences (such as ax, ax 2 , ax 3 , ax 4 . • ); and Book IX proves that there is an infinite number of primes. According to Proclus, Books X and XIII incorporate the work ofthe Pythagorean Theaetetus (c.
A novel feature of the Natural History is the care taken by Pliny in naming his sources, more than 100 of which are mentioned. Book I, in fact, is a summary of the remaining 36 books, listing the authors and sometimes the titles of the books (many of which are now lost) from which Pliny derived his material. The Natural History properly begins with Book II, which is devoted to cosmology and astronomy. Here, as elsewhere, Pliny demonstrated the extent of his reading, especially of Greek texts. By the same token, however, he was sometimes careless in translating details, with the result that he distorted the meaning of many technical and mathematical passages.