Noel Swerdlow, one of the ‘greatest scholars’ of the history of science, 1941-2021

August 3, 2021

Professor Emeritus Noel M. Swerdlow

Expert on ancient scientists remembered for mathematical rigor, intellectual imagination

Prof. Emeritus Noel M. Swerdlow, a distinguished historian of science and the world’s foremost expert on Ptolemy and Copernicus, died July 24. He was 79.

Swerdlow was famous for his approach to studying the works of ancient scientists, which held that modern scholars should be able to understand the mathematics used by ancient writers—from the Babylonians to Kepler. His translations of and commentary on 16th-century astronomer Copernicus, and other astronomers from antiquity to the Renaissance, are foundational texts still read around the world.

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