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Last updated: 2010-11-25


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Dějiny věd a techniky, No. 2, Vol. XLIII (2010)


DVT 102, 77
Gerbert of Aurillac and abacistic skill of calculation
Gerbert z Aurillacu a abacistické počtářské umění

This paper deals with the early medieval abacus. The famous scholar Gerbert of Aurillac, teacher of kings and emperors as well as of an abbot, an archbishop and Pope Sylvester II, is frequently connected with the reintroduction of the abacus to the Christian West at the end of the 10th century. For that reason the early medieval form of the abacus is often named “gerbertian” or “cloistral.” This paper describes the “gerbertian” abacus, including an explanation of the key terms needed for this kind of the calculation (arcus pythagorei, digitus, articulus, numerus simplex, numerus complex, etc.), the performance of notable mathematicians of this epoch (also called gibercisti or abacisti – for example Abbo of Fleury, Heriger of Lobbes, Byrhtferth of Ramsey, Hermannus Contractus, Turchillus Compotista, Robert of Hereford, Radulph of Laon, Adelard of Bath, Garlandus Compotista etc.), and the starting point for using Hindu-Arabic numbers in the Latin West (Gerbert’s study in the Spanish March, contact with Jews, etc.).
The historical part of the article (sections II–IV) is followed by a second part that deals with abacistic skill of calculation (sections V and VI). Addition (in accordance with early medieval rules of the calculation with help of the abacus), multiplication, and division (the most demanding mathematical operation on abacus) are described. The second part of this paper shows the rules of abacistic operations and points out similarities between “gerbertian” mathematical operations and today’s calculations.

DVT 102, 102
The Hájek’s Version of the Mattioli’s Herbal
Hájkova verze Mattioliho herbáře

The Italian physician Pietro Andrea Mattioli cooperated with Tadeáš Hájek z Hájku during his stay in Prague. For the edition of a new Czech herbarium (1562) Hájek translated into Czech the important parts of the Mattioli’s publication Commentarii in libros sex Pedacii Dioscoridis ... de materia medica dealing with the medicinal herbs. In this new herbarium Hájek included medical advice. For this purpose he also used an older Czech herbarium from the year 1517 written by Czech surgeon Jan Černý. The article presents some new possibilities for the further research in this field.

DVT 102, 103
Lothar Tirala: A Breathtaking Career of a Moravian Gynaecologist in the Third Reich
Lothar Gottlieb Tirala: Závratná kariéra brněnského gynekologa ve „třetí říši“

During the time of Nazi rule, racial hygiene and related research was one of the most politicised and misused academic subjects at German universities (including the German Charles University in Prague). Aside from Karl Thums, Prague professor and director of the ‘model’ Institute of Racial Hygiene at the German Charles University, another ‘prominent’ champion of this discipline worked in the Czech Lands. This was Lothar Tirala (1886–1974), a native of Brno. After graduating from the University of Vienna, Tirala became an assistant lecturer of the institute of physiology of the German University in Prague (1923–24). His plan was to receive habilitation in Prague, but after an unsuccessful attempt Tirala returned to Brno as a doctor specialised in gynaecology and urology. In 1933, he became full professor and director of the Institute for Racial Hygiene at the medical faculty in Munich, one of the most important institutions of its kind in Germany. He was appointed despite the opposition of experts (Alfred Ploetz, Fritz Lenz and Ernst Rüdin all thought him to be an ambitious ideologist poorly qualified in requisite fields) at the insistence of Bavarian political and Party circles (members of the Wagnerian circle in Bayreuth and Julius Streicher intervened on his behalf). An exemplary ‘German mentality’ probably played a key role in the appointment of this man, then still a Czechoslovak citizen allegedly “persecuted by the ‘democratic’ regime as well as socialist, Masonic, and Judeo-Bolshevik circles.” After his minimal scientific and pedagogical qualification as well as several cases of medical malpractice, old and new, came to light, Tirala had to leave the University of Munich in the spring of 1936. He lost the right to use the title ‘professor’ but kept fighting this decision until the1950s and 1960s, claiming he was a ‘victim of political persecution.’ After the war, he worked at various places in Germany and Austria. Tirala’s career has been described in foreign academic press. The aim of the present article is to emphasise its Czech connections.

© M. Barvík 2008