Welcome to my web site.
I am a historian of science working at the Centro Interuniversitário de História das Ciências e da Tecnologia, at the University of Lisbon (CIUHCT-UL), and I teach at the Master Program in the History and Philosophy of Science. I am presently Head of the Department for the History and Philosophy of Science.
Here you'll find information on my research, my papers, books and other topics. I have a number of ongoing projects with students and collaborators and will post some information here.
Research that's keeping me busy:
edition of Pedro Nunes's Works (Obras de Pedro Nunes), by the Lisbon Academy of Sciences and the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation is still my most absorbing project. The first six volumes are published: that is, ALL printed works by Pedro Nunes are now available in a modern, annotated edition. They can be bought at the Bookshop of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation. The volume on Nunes' manuscripts (vol. VII) is nearly completed; it should be ready in a couple of months. I am already working hard on vol. VIII (biographical materials and documents). See here for updated information.
Joaquim Gaspar. A few years ago we investigated the origins of the Mercator Projection -- and got some remarkable results; more recently we looked into the first charts with visual depictions of magnetic information, namely isogonic lines. Here are some of our papers: Joaquim Alves Gaspar and Henrique Leitão, "Squaring the Circle: How Mercator constructed his Projection in 1569", Imago Mundi, 66 (2014) 1-24; Henrique Leitão and Joaquim Alves Gaspar, "Globes, rhumb tables and the pre-history of the Mercator projection", Imago Mundi, 66 (2014) 180-195; Joaquim Alves Gaspar and Henrique Leitão, "How Mercator Did it in 1569: From Tables of Rhumbs to a Cartographic Projection", Newsletter of the European Mathematical Society, nº99 (March 2016) 44-49. More papers are submitted and will appear later this year.
I am working with Bernardo Mota on the edition of Francisco de Melo's mathematical works: Francisco de Melo: Obras Matemáticas. Melo (ca. 1490-1536) was a fine mathematician, perhaps the best Portuguese mathematician in the generation before Pedro Nunes. Volume I [Latin text and translation] was published last year and got the most prestigious prize in Portugal for academic translation. We are now working on volume II [Commentary and studies], which we plan to publish in late 2017. See here for more information.
Luana Giurgevich and I have been engaged for some years on a wide research about old libraries in Portugal. Our initial objective was to study the circulation of scientific books in Portugal but we soon realized that a broader approach was needed. We ended up examining in detail the contents of hundreds of old libraries; the result was our recent book: Clavis Bibliothecarum: Catálogos e Inventários de Livrarias de Instituições Religiosas em Portugal até 1834 - an exhaustive list of nearly 1.000 catalogues of ca. 400 ancient libraries plus hundreds of related documents. (This book was awarded a "Menção Honrosa" of the Prize "Lusitania - História", Academia Portuguesa da História, 2016). We are now researching the educational activities around these libraries and these ecclesiastical institutions.
March 2017. New site.
There is a new site, in English, about the Clavis Bibliothecarum and ancient libraries (most ecclesiastical) in Portugal. Still a bit experimental, but it will improve in the next weeks.
December 2016. New book:
Thomas Horst, Marília dos Santos Lopes, Henrique Leitão (eds).,
Renaissance Craftsmen and Humanistic Scholars. Circulation of Knowledge between Portugal and Germany
(Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang, 2017). 245 pp. ISBN: 978-3-631-68113-8.
16 December 2016. Biblioteca Pública de Évora .
Second conference of the series: Clavis Bibliothecarum: Novas Chaves de Interpretação. Biblioteca Pública de Évora.
[For more information, see the Clavis bibliothecarum blog].
Recent and next speaking engagements:
17 March. "Monsters? What Monsters? -- Natural history is normal history". Closing address at the International Meeting Histories of Nature and Environments: Perspectives and Dialogues, Faculdade de Letras da Universidade de Lisboa.
15 May. "The Ajuda Archives and the History of Science". Biblioteca da Ajuda, Lisbon.
11 July. Plenary conference at the Encontro da Casa de Ciências, Lisboa.
24 July. Talk at the All kinds of mathematics remind me of you -- Conference to celebrate the 70th Anniversary of Peter J. Cameron. Faculdade de Ciências, Lisboa.
26 July. Talk at the 25th International Congress of History of Science and Technology, Rio de Janeiro.