The Slovenia Times

A Contribution to Science and Technology



This year marks the 250th anniversary of the birth of world-renowned mathematician, Baron Jurij Vega. In March numerous events took place (the Days of Vega') in memory of this great scientist, whose most important contribution was the development of Logarithmic Tables. Jurij Vega was born on March 23rd 1754 into a poor peasant familiy in Zagorica near Ljubljana. He had attended a Jesuit secondary school where he took final exams in physics, mathematics, logic and metaphysics. His first job was as an engineer specialising in river navigation where he was employed in regulating the Ljubljanica Mura, Drava and Sava rivers. Vega then entered military service in Vienna and fought in battles across Europe for which he received the highest military decoration and his baronial title. Vega's death remains something of a mystery since when his body was discovered in the Danube river it was never established whether he had been murdered or had committed suicide. As an artillery officer, he taught mathematics and introduced lessons in mathematical analysis. He wrote a number of maths and physics textbooks, as well as writing on geodesy, meteorology and balloons but he was most famous in the area of ballistics and became one of the founders of this scientific field. He invented oscillating clocks and strove for a unified metric-kilogram system, since different standards had caused a lot of confusion in this area. In order to honour his life and achievements, on March 15th the Bank of Slovenia issued three commemorative coins worth 25,000, 5,000 and 500 tolars. Two days later the 12th literary monograph of Jurij Vega was published. During the program of events to celebrate his life (the Days of Vega), the Association of Mathematicians, Physicists and Astronomers of Slovenia conducted traditional competitions in maths and physics for elementary and secondary schools. An official commemoration ceremony took place on March 20th in Jurij Vega's birthplace with President Janez Drnovsek as the official speaker, while between March 22nd and 23rd the Slovene Academy of Science and Arts hosted an international meeting on the history of mathematical science, called Jurij Vega and his time. Vega's most important contribution to the science of Maths was the development of Logarithmic tables. Until the introduction of calculators and computers these were used by scientists and school children worldwide. In recognition of his contribution Jurij Vega is the only Slovene scientist commemorated by UNESCO.


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