1600-1699: Measurement and theory

Among the most important problems of the 17th century were those concerned with physical measurement- of time, distance, and space- for astronomy, surveying, map making, navigation and territorial expansion. This century saw great new growth in theory and the dawn of practice- the rise of analytic geometry, theories of errors of measurement and estimation, the birth of probability theory, and the beginnings of demographic statistics and "political arithmetic".

By the end of this century, the necessary elements were at hand- some real data of significant interest, some theory to make sense of them, and a few ideas for their visual representation. Perhaps more importantly, one can see this century as giving rise to the beginnings of visual thinking.

early 1600s

Tables of empirical data, published tables of numbers begin to appear. "Die Tabellen-Statistik," as a branch of statistics devoted to the numerical description of facts- Germany.

1600
Empirical data tables
Added: 2008-07-17

References:
1603
1st world map with isogons
Added: 2007-02-01

Le Nautonier's geomagentic map Le Nautonier's geomagentic map

Modern re-creation of the magnetic equator after Le Nautonier Modern re-creation of the magnetic equator after Le Nautonier

Le Nautonier portrait Le Nautonier portrait

1603
Pantograph
Added: 2007-02-01

Scheiner's pantograph Scheiner's pantograph

1610
Astronomical pictures
Added: 2007-04-06

Page 9v: craters on the moon Page 9v: craters on the moon

Cover page from Sidereus Nuncius Cover page from Sidereus Nuncius

1614
Logarithmic tables
Added: 2008-07-17

Two pages from Napier's table of logarithms Two pages from Napier's table of logarithms

Diagram of spherical triangles from Diagram of spherical triangles from

Napier portrait Napier portrait

Linear and logarithmic scales Linear and logarithmic scales


In 1617, the year of his death, Napier invented a calculating device, called "Napier's Bones," based on logarithms to facilitate multiplication and division. Napier was also the first to describe the systematic use of the decimal point in representing the result of long division.
References:
Napier:1614
1617
Trigonometric triangulation
Added: 2008-07-17

Snellius portrait Snellius portrait


In 1621, Willibrord Snell, in Cyclometricus, discovered the law of refraction which says that the ratio of the sines of the angles of incidence and refraction is a constant and the index of refraction varies from one transparent substance to another. This law implies that the velocity of light in a medium is inversely proportional to its refractive index. Cyclometricus was published after Snell's death by Rene' Descartes.
References:
Snell:1617
1620 to 1628
Gunter's scale
Added: 2004-11-03

Gunter's scale image Gunter's scale image

Gunter's log scale Gunter's log scale

Oughtred's dual log scale Oughtred's dual log scale

1623
1st adding machine
Added: 2004-06-05

reproduction of Schickard's calculating clock reproduction of Schickard's calculating clock

1626
Sunspots
Added: 2008-07-17

Apparatus for recording sunspots Apparatus for recording sunspots

Scheiner sunspot image Scheiner sunspot image

1632
Least deviations
Added: 2008-07-17

Galileo portrait Galileo portrait

1637
Coordinate system
Added: 2008-07-17

Descartes portrait Descartes portrait


About 1629, Pierre de Fermat discovered that the equation $f(x,y)=0$ represents a curve in the xy-plane. This is the fundamental principle of analytic geometry, and was first published by Descartes in 1637. He also formulated a method for determining the maximim and minimum values which give single solutions for problems which in general have two solutions. This procedure is "almost precisely that now given in the differential calculus''" ''(Boyer 1949:156).
References:
Descartes:1637
1644
1st data graph
Added: 2008-07-17

Langren image Langren image


References:
Langren:1644
1646
Image projection
Added: 2008-07-17

Althanasius Kircher portrait Althanasius Kircher portrait

1654
Theory of probability
Added: 2008-07-17

Pascal portrait Pascal portrait

1657
1st text on probability
Added: 2008-07-17

Huygens portrait Huygens portrait

1662
Demographic statistics
Added: 2008-07-17

Mortality table, from Mortality table, from

Graunt portrait Graunt portrait

Cover page of "Natural and Political Observations..." Cover page of "Natural and Political Observations..."


Graunt's work of 1662 is often ascribed to Sir William Petty. The authorship questionhas been discussed by Wilcoxwho concludes that although a portion ofthe work was by Petty, the majority is due to Graunt.
References:
Graunt:1662 Sutherland:1963 Petty:1665 Wilcox:1937
1666
1st complete census
Added: 2008-07-17

E. H. Godfrey says that this is "a date prior to any modern census, whether European or American'', seeThe returns were fairly complete, giving data on population, sexes, families, conjugal condition, age, profession and trades, and they filled 154 pages. The original copy is now in the Archives of Paris, and a transcript in the Archives of Ottawa.
References:
Godfrey:1918 JohnsonKotz:97
1669
Life table
Added: 2008-07-17

Huygens graph Huygens graph


Source: correspondence between Huygens and his brother Lodewijk.
References:
Boyer:1947
1671
Mortality table
Added: 2007-02-01

de Witt portrait de Witt portrait

1679
Network diagram on a map
Added: 2009-09-16

Adams1679 Adams1679


References:
Adams:1679
1686
Bivariate plot
Added: 2008-07-17

Halley's graph of change in barometric pressure Halley's graph of change in barometric pressure


References:
Halley:1686
1686
1st weather map
Added: 2008-07-17

Halley's wind map, section 1 detail Halley's wind map, section 1 detail

Halley's wind map, 1686 Halley's wind map, 1686

Halley portrait Halley portrait


References:
Halley:1686a
1687
International statistics
Added: 2008-07-17

Petty portrait Petty portrait


References:
Petty:1687a Petty:1687b
1693
1st mortality tables
Added: 2008-07-17
1693
rectangles for probabilities
Added: 2008-07-17

Halley 1893 2D diagram Halley 1893 2D diagram

Halley 1893 3D diagram Halley 1893 3D diagram

Halley's diagram Halley's diagram


References:
Halley:1693 Hald:1990