Pitt given 300-year-old letter to Leibniz

March 9, 2011 at 2:37 PM
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PITTSBURGH, March 9 (UPI) -- The University of Pittsburgh has unveiled a donated letter written to 18th century mathematician-philosopher G.W. Leibniz and a rough draft of his reply.

Nicholas Rescher, a Pitt philosophy professor, said his father, a refugee from Nazi Germany, bought the letter immediately after World War II, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported. Rescher has been at Pitt since 1961 and began donating his collection of rare books and other items to the university last year.

Rescher handed the letter to Rush Miller, Pitt's library director, at a brief ceremony Monday.

The letter was written in Latin by Michael Gottlieb Hansch, a German theologian, to Gottlieb Wilhelm Leibniz in 1711. Leibniz, who died five years later, shares credit with Isaac Newton for inventing calculus and was one of the most renowned European philosophers and a scientific pioneer.

In the three-page letter, Hansch discusses his own work on the writings of the astronomer and mathematician Johannes Kepler. Leibniz drafted a reply on a fourth page.

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