Journal and Web of Society for History of Sciences and Technology, Prague
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Archives of Paper’s Abstracts

### Dějiny věd a techniky, No. 2, Vol. XXXVI (2003)

ABSTRACTS OF PAPERS

/03:2:65/

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Lenka LOMTATIDZE
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**RENÉ DESCARTES AND NOTION OF CURVE VIEWED FROM 21ST CENTURY**

(René Descartes a pojem křivka z pohledu 21. století)

The notion of a curve—as opposed to many other mathematical notions – does not sound very scientific nor impressive. The answer to the question “What is a curve?” is, however, not quite so simple. Although the notion of a curve seems to be intuitively clear, the way to the precise definition of a curve was long and complicated. It seems that seeking and improving this definition is connected with many branches of contemporary mathematics.

In the contribution, the author is seeking the answer to the question what the content of the notion of a curve was for the French philosopher Rene Descartes (1596–1650). In the first part, she sums up the knowledge of curves and the ways in which they were studied at the period of time before Descartes. In the following part, she closely examines those parts of Descartes’ work Geometrie that are devoted to curves. She also mentions relevant pieces of Descartes’ correspondence. In the conclusion, one of possible views on Descartes’ contribution to the theory of the curves is presented.

The article includes also illustrations of Descartes’ tools for drawing curves. Dynamic models of these tools can be found at http://www.math.muni.cz/~mlc/descart/. They were created with the help of CABRI GEOMETRIE software.

/03:2:89/

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Benjamin Page
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**IMPRESSIONS: THE ROCKEFELLER FOUNDATION AND EARLY CZECHOSLOVAKIA. WORK... AND CRITICS**

(Imprese: Rockefellerova nadace a rané Československo. Práce... a kritika)

This article is a free sequel to one of the same name, subtitled „Počátky“, published in DVT, XXXV, 2002, 3/4 (pp. 151—176). Using material from the Rockefeller Archive Center it reviews the main personalities, projects, and problems involved in the work of the Rockefeller Foundation´s International Health Board in early interwar Czechoslovakia, the first European country in which the IHB collaborated in the development of public health. The article also reveals the assumptions and perspectives through which Rockefeller personnel viewed their work and traces the rapid erasion of their early enthusiasm for the new country in the face of the civil service system and bureaucratic customs inherited from Austria. The article concludes with a review of criticism of the Rockefeller approach, some of it within the foundation itself, and of questions that have been raised over the years, about the possible threats to democracy posed by an economic system that permits the acquisition and privately determined use of fortunes such as Rockefellers.

© M. Barvík 2004