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Science Minds Countdown, #9

Posted by AlienCG on June 10, 2009

Because there are so great, influential minds in all of science, going all the way back to our earliest recorded history, I have decided to group many of them together.  This week I am going all the way back to Greece in the first millennium BC.  There are too many great minds here to mention them all, but I will mention the big ones.  This takes us back to the beginnings of mathematics and geometry.  I have always enjoyed math in school because there was closure to it.  You start off with a long problem and work it down to a single answer.

#9) The Greeks
Philosophers, Mathematicians, Politicians
Fathers of modern math, proposed a spherical earth

Pythagoras derived the theorem that carries his name which states that on a right triangle, the square of one side plus the square of the other side equals the square of the hypotenuse  (a² + b² = c²).  To me, this is a very beautiful formula, but I often wonder how he figured it out.  He also believed that everything in the world could be predicted through mathematics.  Unfortunately, much of what he wrote has been lost, so not much is known about him.

Euclid was responsible for taking all of the information from the past mathematicians and compiling them into a book called Elements which included all of the proofs.  This information is still the basis of many a math class today.  This volume also includes Number Theory which looks at the connections between Perfect Numbers, Mersenne Primes and the rest of the Prime Numbers.

Ptolemy, while he was a geocentrist (earth is the center of the universe), created the Handy Tables which is used to calculate the positions of the Sun, Moon, planets and was also used to predict solar and lunar eclipses.  The format of these tables is still used in astronomical tables to this day.

I know, this is only three Greek mathematicians and there are plenty of others.  I’m just hoping this shows how knowledge gained thousands of years ago is still used today.  The Greeks were definitely onto something and I, personally, thank them for their efforts so long ago.  I hope you’re enjoying my countdown so far.

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3 Responses to “Science Minds Countdown, #9”

  1. I am amazed that anyone thought up so much of what the greek scholars have given us.
    What marvelously curious minds to ponder and conclude these things. I’m not one of those lucky enough to understand math easily. I struggle and think… how did they ever figure that out! I can’t get it when its clearly explained.

    BTW I am really enjoying this count down. Glad you choose this subject.

  2. laura b. said

    Great examples of sound, beautiful reasoning that still works today. I am a math cripple, but even I can see the beauty of it.
    Sort of takes my breath away.

  3. churlita said

    Very cool countdown, indeed. I love the Greek Geeks a lot too.

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