What has surprised you about Greek mathematics that you wish you’d known before?

Greek mathematics is something that I have not truly explored until now.  I have researched and read articles about it and have been surprised about multiple things.  Some examples are of the following:

  • How many known mathematicians were involved in greed mathematics
  • Where proofs came from
  • How schooling worked.

I had no idea that the idea of proofs originated in Greek Mathematics.  I knew that Euclid did many proof to show how certain aspects of our everyday math exists but I didn’t know that a formal proof was not around before Greek mathematics.

One fact that I learned through the research done is that there were specific school just for learning about these newly learned mathematics.

While studying mathematics throughout my educational career, I have come to recognize quite a few names that are famously known in the math world.  Now that I got the chance to do some background research on Greek mathematics, I have come to find out that most of these names that I recognize when talked about are known from there impact they had in Greek mathematics.  A few names come to mind when I say this and that is Pythagoras, Aristarchus, Thales, and Euclid.

Pythagoras was one of the first Greek mathematic thinkers.  He spread his thoughts and ideas with a group of his followers who then continued to teach them to others.  These Pythagoreans were known to put things in order.  They said that math contained the rules of the world around us.  He is best known for proving that the Pythagorean Theorem is true.

Aristarchus was the first person to suggest that the earth revolved around the sun and not the other way around like most people thought. He also figured out the size of the moon and discovered that the stars are far away and the sun is much bigger than the moon or the earth.

Thales was the first person to predict an eclipse of the sun successfully.  He also figured out a way to measure one of the Egyptian Pyramids through measuring shadows based off of his own height.  He also proved many mathematical facts such as a diameter bisects a circle, the bottom angles of an isosceles triangle have the same angle measurement, when two straight lines cut into each other, and if two triangles have two angles and a side in common, the triangles are identical.

Euclid is a very interesting character.  He has no known photos of himself, and some people don’t even know if he existed.  Euclid’s goal was to prove things by using reason and logic.  He also taught how triangles and circles work, along with irrational numbers and three-dimensional geometry.

One paragraph that I found very interesting during my reading was the following:

“Thales may have been Anaximander’s teacher, and Anaximander was Pythagoras’ teacher. Some ancient writers say that Pythagoras, when he was young, actually visited Thales, and that Thales advised Pythagoras to go study in Egypt. Thales died in 543 BC, only a few years after his city was conquered by the Persians.”