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John Napier

John Napier : Scottish Mathematician, Astronomer, and Physicist

John Napier of Merchiston was a Scottish landowner known as a mathematician, astronomer, and physicist. 

John Napier is best known for many reasons.

  1. He has discovered logarithms.
  2. He invented the “Napier’s bones”.
  3. He was the first to make use of the decimal point in mathematics.

John Napier Life History:

  • He was born on 1 February 1550 in Merchiston Castle Tower in Edinburgh. His father was Sir Archibald Napier and his mother was Janet Bothwell. At age 13, He joined St Salvator’s College, St Andrews. He got private tuitions during childhood days.
  • For his higher education, He left Scotland. In 1571, He returned to Scotland after his education. At Gartness, In 1574, He bought a castle.
  • He spent the last days of his life Merchiston Castle in Edinburgh
  • At, home at Merchiston Castle, He died on 4 April 1617 at the age of 67 due to the effects of gout and was buried in the kirkyard of St Giles.

John Napier Books

John Napier has written a lot of books

  1. Rabdology
  2. The Construction of the Wonderful Canon of Logarithms 
  3. A Description of the Admirable Table of Logarithms
  4. Hands John Napier
  5. Charismatic Challenge: Four Key Questions 
  6. The Construction of the Wonderful Canon of Logarithms.
  7. The Complete Logarithms of John Napier (1550-1617): A Realization.
  8. Rabdologiæ seu Numerationis per Virgulas libri duo
  9. A Plaine Discovery of the Whole Revelation
  10. Mirifici logarithmorum canonis descriptio
  11. Mirifici logarithmorum canonis constructio 
  12. De arte logistica
John Napier
John Napier

Contributions of John Napier in Mathematics

  • John Napier has done a great contribution in mathematics:
  • Napier is considered as the first person to work with logarithms and even one of the first persons to work with decimals.
  • Napier has made his own devices which would help him to resolve the issues of computation. 
  • He invented a well-known mathematical artifact
  • the original old fashioned numbering rods are famously known as “Napier’s bones”. These rods help in computation. These Bones were originally used to calculate the Products and Quotients of the numbers. 
  • Napier figured out the worth of the latest development in that era in mathematics, especially those of symbolic index arithmetic, decimal fractions, and, to handling the issue of reducing computation. 
  • He appreciated that, for the most part, the mathematics Professionals who had indefatigable computations usually made in the context of trigonometry.
  • Napier did a lot of contributions to trigonometric.
  • Napier’s work, Mirifici Logarithmorum Canonis Descriptio (1614) comprises ninety pages of tables of numbers associated with natural logarithms & fifty-seven pages related to explanatory matter and 
  • Napier has beautifully written the theorems about spherical trigonometry, These theorems are now known as Napier’s Rules of Circular Parts. 
  • Napier considered A Plaine Discovery of the Whole Revelation of St. John (1593) as his most important work. 
  • Simon Stevin’s decimal notation was improved by Napier. 
  • Because of the Napier’s Bones, Fibonacci was able to use Lattice multiplication

Interesting facts about John Napier

Interesting facts about John :

  1. He was fluent in Greek.
  2. He had a property in Edinburgh city.
  3. He was a religious person. He once said, “God wanted the Church to know when the end was coming”.
  4. He used worked largely in isolation.
  5. He was also considered as a Magician.
  6. It is also said that he used to perform Black Magic.

Some micro-tales About John :

  • People say, He would travel with a black spider in a small box, and that box would contain spirits.
  • People say he spent his time learning the black art. 
  • It is said that he used his black rooster to catch a thief. 
  • Napier ordered his assistants to go into a dimmed room and pet the rooster in order to figure out the thief.
  • In order to get get rid of pigeons from his estate, he mixed the grains with alcohol throughout the field. He then captured the pigeons once they were too drunk.

Awards and Rewards under the name of John Napier

Few Honors to John

  • A university was named under John Napier, called Napier University in Edinburgh, Scotland.
  • On the west side of Edinburgh, John Napier was memorialized at St Cuthbert’s.
  • The Statue of John Napier is made in the Scottish National Portrait Gallery in order to honor Napier’s works.

Quotes By John Napier

Seeing there is nothing, (right well-beloved students of mathematics,) that is so troublesome to mathematical practice, nor that doth more molest and hinder calculations, that the multiplications, divisions, square and cubical extractions of great numbers, which besides the tedious experience of time, are for the most part subject to many slippery errors, I began, therefore, to consider in my mind, by what certain and ready art I might remove these hindrances.

Arrange all these results as described, and you will produce a Table, certainly the most excellent of all Mathematical tables, and prepared for the most important uses.

Other Mathematicians Talking about John Napier

The invention of logarithms, without which many of the numerical calculations which have constantly to be made would be practically impossible, was due to Napier of Merchiston. The first public announcement of the discovery was made in his Mirifici Logarithmorum Canonis Description

W. W. Rouse Ball

 I never saw a book [Mirifici Logarithmorum Canonis Descriptio] which pleased me better and made me more wonder.

Henry Briggs

Other Mathematicians Like Napier

Few Mathematicians who are also Physicists and Astronomer are Pierre-Simon Laplace, Carl Friedrich Gauss, Leonhard Euler, Thales of Miletus, Muhammad ibn Musa al-Khwarizmi.

FAQ About John

What is John most famous for?

John Napier was the one who invented the logarithm. His theories in the logarithm brought a remarkable change in mathematics.

What did John Napier’s contribution to math?

Logarithm was been Discovered by John . He was also the first mathematician to say about the usage of the decimal point in arithmetic.

How did John Napier die?

The cause of death of John Napier is said to be is Gout.

What did John do for a living?

To earn for the livelihood, John Napier used to teach Astronomy to his students. He was a professor of Astronomy. 

To whom did John Napier Marry?

John married Elizabeth Stirling(who was just 16 years old at that time) in the year 1572. She was the daughter of James Stirling

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