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Greek Leaders in Thought, Science, and Math: Pythagoras

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“All men by nature desire to know”Aristotle. That quote sums up how the Greeks looked at thought and learning. They constantly were searching for more knowledge and new ways of discovering it. The Greeks were pioneers in many of the things they did. The Greeks were one of the most influential leaders in math, science, and philosophy, and their ideas are still used today. The common factor between all these things was that in most cases they used deduction, and proof to have a better understanding of themselves and the universe.

The Greeks had many leaders in thought, science, and math. Most of these people weren’t actually just one of these things, they were a combination of many different professions. One of the famous mathematicians of all time was Pythagoras. Pythagoras was a philosopher and a mathematician. He lived from 570 to 490 BCE.y He grew up in Samos, near Turkey, later in life, he lived in southern Italy. Archimedes was an engineer, a physicist, and an inventor. He is most famously an inventor though, having created many inventions that are still used today. He was born in 287 BCE and died in 212 BCE. He was born in Syracuse and moved to Alexandria, but almost nothing is known about his childhood. Thales of Miletus was born in Born in Ionia in 620 BCE, and died in 546 BCE. Thales was a philosopher and a scientist. Ptolemy was an astronomer, geographer, and mathematician. He was born in 127 AD, and died in 145 AD. Almost nothing is known about his life. He wrote a book about astronomy, and he thought the earth was the center of the universe. Euclid, was a teacher, and he ran a school, he also wrote about 12 books, most of them lost. Almost nothing else is known about his life. Plato is one of the most well known philosophers ever. He was born in 427 BCE, and he died in 347 BCE. He taught Aristotle, and was taught by Socrates. Aristotle may be the most well-known philosopher ever, he was also a mathematician, had ideas about politics, a biologist, and a psychologist. He was a student of Plato for 20 years, and rejected some of his theories. He was born in 384 BCE and died in 322 BCE. Aristarchus of Samos was born in 310 BCE and died in 210 BCE. He proposed the idea of the earth being heliocentric, he also said the stars were distant suns that did not move. Ertathosenthes was a philosopher and mathematician, who studied in Athens. He lived from 276-194 BCE. Hipparchus was an astronomer, and a mathematician, who measured the length of a year almost exactly, he was off by only six and a half minutes, he also made the first star catalog, and basic trigonometry. Socrates, although he never wrote anything was one of the most influential philosophers of his time. He was born in 469 BCE and died in 399 BCE. Zeno of Elena is most famous for his work on paradoxes. He studied with a contemporary of Socrates. He lived from 490 BCE to 425 BCE.

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The Greeks had many achievements in the field of mathematics. One of these achievements was made by Pythagoras, he discovered how to find the length of sides of right triangles, using The Pythagorean Theorem. The pythagorean theorem states that, a^2, B^2=C^2. The A and B are two shortest sides of the triangle, and taking the square of them both, and adding them, equals the square of the longest side, C. This is still used in architecture, taught in schools, and many more things. The book The Elements, was written by Euclid. He did not create anything new, but rather he combined all the known math at that time, and created one book. This was very useful at the time, because it was very difficult to know all math at that time, but when it was all in one book it became much easier. The book uses only deduction, not any induction. The Greeks were the ones who decided they would use the base number 60. They decided on 60, because it has many factors, because it has many factors, it can easily be divided into segments to make things easier. The Greeks tried to find the square root of two. At that time they did not realize that it was an irrational number, they were determined to find it. Pythagoras was especially interested in this topic. He finally came up with the conclusion, that there was no rational square root of two. ANother problem that dealt with the square root of two, was doubling a cube. At first, they thought they should just double the sides, but that produces a cube eight times the size. To be able to double the size of a cube, you need the square root of two. The Greeks were very exact in their numbers. They were stunned when they realized they couldn’t express all numbers in a fraction.

The Greeks also had many ideas in science. Science is also connected with math. For example Aristacrous was able to roughly measure the size of the sun, moon, and earth.

“We should not give the Greeks too much credit when one of these theories (for example of atoms) anticipates a product of modern science. However, we must give immense credit for the pattern of thought that they introduced, the concept that things could be understood in terms of underlying causes and that these explanations could be tested to see if they were correct. These principles define the scientific method, as we still practice it. Their new method of thought has proven very powerful in making progress in our understanding of nature. Aristotle stated it more clearly than anyone since: ‘There is no science except of the general.’” “The greeks, were not always right, but their process in which they obtained information was ingenious, and still used today. “A powerful aspect of science is that it aims to detach itself from notions with specific use and looks for general principles with broad applications. The more general science becomes the more abstract it is and has more applications.” (Cristian Violatti) Oftentimes the Greeks had ideas, in which they created rules, adn principles. The Greeks had numerous fragments of ideas, and they expanded them into principles. For example, “Egyptians knew, for example, that a triangle whose sides are in a 3:4:5 ratio is a right triangle.” (Cristian Violetta) Pythagoras took that known idea and produced a theorem for all right triangles that is still used today. Archimedes was an inventor, one of his most useful inventions, was his use of the screw. Once a king had a problem, he didn’t know how to take out rainwater from the hull of his ship. He asked Archimedes to help. Archimedes used a screw to lift up the water from the boat. This idea is still used today in some countries, as for types of irrigation.

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Greek Leaders in Thought, Science, and Math: Pythagoras. (2022, March 17). Edubirdie. Retrieved September 22, 2023, from
“Greek Leaders in Thought, Science, and Math: Pythagoras.” Edubirdie, 17 Mar. 2022,
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