- (Niccolô Fontana, 1499-1557)Italian physicist and mathematician. He grew up at Brescia, where at age 12 he suffered the facial wounds that made him a stammerer (the mean-ing of Tartaglia) during French pillaging of the city. His father's early death left him in great poverty, but his love of mathematics and de-termination to learn enabled him to get an education. He worked as a teacher of abaco (commercial arithmetic) at Verona from about 1516 until 1534, when he moved to Venice to teach mathematics. Tartaglia was a close student of the Latin translations of ancient Greek math-ematical authors and edited several of them. His Opera Archimedis / Works of Archimedes (1543), which reprints the medieval translations made by a pupil of Thomas Aquinas, William of Moerbeke, included On Floating Bodies, which was a major influence on the criticism of Aristotelian physics. From this tract, Tartaglia himself derived the hydrostatic principles underlying his treatise on the raising of sunken vessels, Travagliata inventione / A Hard-won Discovery (1551) as well as his posthumously published table of specific gravities. His Ital-ian translation of Euclid's Elements (1543) was the first translation of this fundamental geometrical text into any European vernacular. Other works include Nova scientia /New Science (1537), a treatise on me-chanics which advances an influential theorem defining the proper ele-vation (45 degrees) for attaining the maximum range for a cannon and which also shows some significant departures from Aristotelian physics; Quesiti e inventioni diverse /Various Questions and Inventions (1546); and his last work, General trattato di numeri e misure / General Treatise on Numbers and Measures (1556), a survey of pure and applied mathematics. Tartaglia's greatest single mathematical discovery, the so-lution for cubic equations, was made at Verona. This discovery led to a quarrel with Girolamo Cardano, who published it in 1545 (without Tartaglia's permission, but giving him credit) after Tartaglia had divulged it to him in secret.
Historical Dictionary of Renaissance. Charles G. Nauert. 2004.
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