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Questions tagged [ancient-greece]

For questions about events occurring in Greece and the immediate areas around it between 800 B.C. and 600 A.D.

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Ancient Greek Definition of Area

I am looking for a source that would explain what the ancient Greeks thought the “area” of a polygon was, in a philosophical sense. It’s very easy to find sources about the history of their formulas ...
Joe's user avatar
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2 votes
0 answers
52 views

Did Democritus predict atoms using sharp phase transitions

In the Wikipedia page for the Ising Model it is written without citations: One of Democritus' arguments in support of atomism was that atoms naturally explain the sharp phase boundaries observed in ...
Diana's user avatar
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104 views

How much did the ancient Greeks know of non-Euclidean geometry?

They knew the Earth was a sphere, and Eratosthenes even computed the radius. Menelaus and possibly Hipparchus knew that the angles inside a triangle add to more than $\pi$ on a sphere. Did they have ...
thedude's user avatar
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3 votes
1 answer
357 views

Ancient drawing board in mathematics

According to Van Der Waerden's "Science Awakening", it was common for Ancient Greek mathematicians to use a board filled with sand to draw their figures, ie : But the ancients made their ...
Slereah's user avatar
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6 votes
5 answers
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Why was the development of mathematics very slow between Ancient Greece and Descartes?

I asked this question on MSE here In my studies of mathematics (I am not very good at mathematics, I only studied real analysis, some linear algebra, geometry and calculus ), I noticed that ...
pie's user avatar
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2 votes
2 answers
221 views

Ancient Egyptian geometry

When reading on the topic of Ancient Egyptian geometry by Ancient Greek philosophers, there is a certain sense that this is quite a thriving discipline that seems comparable to the type of geometry ...
Slereah's user avatar
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1 vote
0 answers
68 views

How did the Ancient Greeks conceive of the Platonic solids?

Now we generally think of the Platonic solids as being the regular convex polyhedra. And while the Ancient Greeks were aware of this solids as being particularly special, I don't believe that it is ...
Sriotchilism O'Zaic's user avatar
0 votes
2 answers
149 views

Did the ancients know about the law of universal gravitation?

Just looking into the dialogue by Plutarch "De facie quae in orbe Lunae apparet" and my impression is, they knew the law of universal gravitation quite well. For instance, it is argued that ...
Anixx's user avatar
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2 votes
1 answer
165 views

Can the so-called completeness of real numbers be understood as closure under limits in the real number system?

Someone suggested (please see the comments below) that I post this question on hsm.stackexchange. There is a connection to the history of mathematics in this, regarding the relationship between the ...
bokabokaboka's user avatar
2 votes
0 answers
124 views

Archimedes' lever and the concept of work

Do I understand correctly that Archimedes was not familiar with the concept of work and hence attributed mechanical advantage to a lever's ability to create force rather than understanding that the ...
Adrien Hingert's user avatar
19 votes
1 answer
3k views

How did Ptolemy know that days were unequal lengths?

Apparently Ptolemy was aware of the fact that the duration of time from noon to noon varied by many seconds throughout the course of a year. In modern times this fluctuation in length of day leads to ...
Jagerber48's user avatar
2 votes
1 answer
377 views

How did Aristotle explain the motion of living things moving by themselves, and falling of objects, with his hypothesis of all motion needing a cause?

Aristotle (384 BC – 322 BC), a pioneering, iconoclastic, and brilliant ancient Greek philosopher, made the observation in his writings that the long term stable state of objects is at rest, that ...
Ritesh Singh's user avatar
4 votes
0 answers
126 views

Did the ancient Greeks know that "most" cube roots are irrational?

It is common knowledge that the Pythagoreans discovered irrational numbers (or incommensurability), for example if the hypotenuse of an isosceless right triangle is compared with one of the legs or ...
Frunobulax's user avatar
3 votes
2 answers
160 views

History of Speed - is it really new? [duplicate]

I was writing a paper on the basics of calculus, and of course the study of velocities plays a big part in that. In introducing the problem statement, I started with a classic word problem, "...
Cort Ammon's user avatar
1 vote
1 answer
284 views

Was religion not present at all in the Astronomy of the Ancient Greeks?

I attended a lecture on the history of Astronomy and Mathematics, and I was somewhat puzzled by how scientific the early Greeks were. Yes, I am aware that they have many of the greatest mathematicians ...
J. Dionisio's user avatar
4 votes
1 answer
260 views

Thales and measuring vertical angles

According to Wikipedia’s web page dedicated to Thales of Miletus, he came to the idea to prove the equality of vertical angles as a theorem when he saw that the Egyptians, after intersecting two lines,...
bandi's user avatar
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29 votes
2 answers
7k views

How did Eratosthenes know the Sun was very far away?

Eratosthenes calculated the radius of the Earth from the difference of the lengths of shadows between Aswan and Alexandria were different (see also here). But this could also happen if the Earth were ...
Rohit Pandey's user avatar
1 vote
2 answers
257 views

Discussions of why the Greeks "squared the..." geometrically

The Wikipedia article on squaring the circle has a relatively good history of their efforts on this particular problem, but it fails to mention why the Greeks were interested in this methodology on a ...
Maury Markowitz's user avatar
2 votes
1 answer
191 views

Exhaustion method blocked by religious aspects?

Eudoxus developed the exhaustion method for calculating areas that continued with Archimedes and then only in the 16th century with Simon Stevin and Buonaventura Cavalieri. Why did it take so long? ...
Antonio Abrantes's user avatar
2 votes
1 answer
268 views

The abstraction of mathematics from physics

When and how did mathematics come to be abstracted away from the physical world? At first, mathematics would originate in its simplest form of counting and addition as to keep track of certain ...
Joseph_Kopp's user avatar
8 votes
1 answer
329 views

Adrastus, Proclus, and 2+8+50+288+… versus 1+9+49+289+…

According to the MacTutor essay "D'Arcy Thompson on Greek irrationals" (which I take to be a version of Thompson's original essay whose only liberty with the original text is giving English ...
James Propp's user avatar
0 votes
0 answers
78 views

What was the difference between Number and Magnitude in Ancient Greece [duplicate]

I've been reading Infinite Powers by Steven Strogatz and in it, he writes about how the greeks differentiated between numbers as being discrete and magnitudes as being continuous. However, all of ...
user avatar
1 vote
0 answers
55 views

Al-Fihrist survivals

I wonder if there is any estimate about the percentage of the books that survived from Islamic ancient time listed in Ibn Nadim's Al Fihrist? Is there any counterpart of this work belonging to ancient ...
Hamid Enki's user avatar
1 vote
0 answers
165 views

Classification of "Epitaph of Diophantus" problem

The well-known riddle of the Epitaph of Diophantus, attributed to Metrodorus, is one of the style of simple problem in algebra whose pattern when expressed in contemporary algebraic notation is: $$x = ...
Prime Mover's user avatar
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1 vote
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What is Aristotle's view on Plant generation?

I am new to Aristotle study, In Book 1 of Generation of Aristotle give his view on plant generation, In Book 1.1 Aristotle writes " But all those creatures which do not move, as the Testacea and ...
Abhishek Yadav's user avatar
0 votes
0 answers
54 views

What date is assigned to Hippocratic treatises "On Generation" and "On the Nature of the Child"?

On the nature of the Child is quoted by Galen in his Book "On Semen". I want to know what date is given to these two books, especially "On Generation"?
Abhishek Yadav's user avatar
2 votes
1 answer
190 views

(Where) does Plato define perfect number?

I've read several texts suggesting that Plato defines "perfect number" in his Republic, book VIII 546 b. However, there's no definition as we can see from - for example - this translation: &...
jvkloc's user avatar
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2 votes
0 answers
130 views

Did the ancients construct higher genus curves?

I know that the ancients had several ways to construct geometric shapes. I know two of them: the biggest one, ruler and compass, with which you can build some polygons, bisect an angle, etc, but not ...
Raphaël Picovschi's user avatar
2 votes
1 answer
614 views

What is "female seed" in Galen's work?

On the last page (page 84) of Anthony Preus's paper$^\star$ on Galen's criticism of Aristotle's Conception Theory, the author writes that Galen discussing the second book of "On Seed", which ...
Abhishek Yadav's user avatar
0 votes
0 answers
43 views

Historicity of Euclid. Looking for the references of Euclid in ancient texts that has survived [duplicate]

The general consensus is that Euclid was a real historical figure. Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Euclid concludes on the hypothesis that Euclid was not a real person, "This hypothesis ...
Biswarup's user avatar
2 votes
0 answers
71 views

Nachmanides and the Greek proof that the earth is mostly covered with water

In the Biblical account of creation, G-d divided the waters. The rabbi and Biblical commentator Nachmanides wrote about this that he believes the Greek demonstration that the earth is mostly covered ...
Chaim's user avatar
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1 vote
1 answer
138 views

To what extent was astronomical knowledge in ancient Greece common knowledge?

I have a question about ancient Greek astronomy. We know certainly that the likes of Pythagoras, Aristotle, Anaximander, et al had much to say about the motions of the stars, planets, comets, etc, ...
Andrew Theokas's user avatar
0 votes
2 answers
576 views

What happened to the original sources of Euclid's Elements?

I am aware of the fact that Euclid's Elements is a compilation of the works of previous Greek mathematicians like Thales, Pythagoras (his school), Eudoxus, Theaetetus, etc. However, I want to know the ...
user avatar
0 votes
0 answers
75 views

Is it true that there were "wooden guiding structures" proposed, by the ancient Greek, to account for the motions of the planets?

I can remember after attending a philosophy of science class, I put forward the thought ancient Greek had about the motion of the planets. I had read about them thinking there are wooden circular ...
Deschele Schilder's user avatar
-1 votes
2 answers
107 views

Do we know of any ancient 'Introduction to Mathematics' in Ancient Greece, besides "The Elements"? [duplicate]

Given that Euclid's work is titled "The Elements", it is safe to imply that it is a compendium of elementary results of Ancient Greek Geometry. Other works, such as those of Apollonius, ...
Elkin Montoya's user avatar
0 votes
0 answers
87 views

Greek fire explosive I assume -- did an accident lead any inventor to consider using it as a propellant?

I would guess that occasionally pots of Greek fire did explode and if so, one would have seen how far shards were sent. Assuming this is true, did anyone suggest something like a cannon or a bomb ...
releseabe's user avatar
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0 votes
1 answer
218 views

Greek astronomy vs astrology

I wonder if would be right to say that while most ancient astronomical activities, such as building and improvement of observational structures, had a strong astrological component, the Greek ...
Mikael Jensen's user avatar
0 votes
1 answer
539 views

Are the ancient Egyptians and the ancient Mesopotamians really the cradles of civilization? [closed]

Is it true that ancient Greek knowledge of mathematics, science, astronomy, engineering, architecture, civilization came from the ancient Minoan civilization and ancient Mycenaean civilizations and ...
Howard Greenwood's user avatar
1 vote
1 answer
240 views

Gravity of Plato

What is the description of the gravitational interaction in the philosophy of Plato? Are there some drastic differences from Aristotle's physics?
Nikita's user avatar
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1 vote
2 answers
707 views

What dialect of ancient Greek was taught to natural philosophers?

Ancient Greek had a large impact on scientific and mathematical language and thinking leading into the Enlightenment period and beyond. But "ancient Greek" could refer to any dialect ...
Sam Gallagher's user avatar
3 votes
1 answer
525 views

When did mathematicians suspect that $\pi$ is irrational?

The title says it all. The irrationality of $\pi$ was proved by Lambert in the 18th century, but the Greeks at the time of Pythagoras already knew that $\sqrt2$ and the golden ratio were irrational. ...
Frunobulax's user avatar
3 votes
1 answer
2k views

What did the ancient Greeks know about the solar system, and how?

I'm aware that it was known to the ancient Greeks that the planets were somehow different from the stars. But in what depth did they know the solar system? In particular, did they know: that the sun ...
Mauro Giliberti's user avatar
1 vote
0 answers
176 views

Why didn't the ancient Greeks consider 1 to be odd?

The Wikipedia page on parity currently says: The ancient Greeks considered 1, the monad, to be neither fully odd nor fully even Why didn't they consider 1 as odd? (I am assuming they already had the ...
minseong's user avatar
  • 121
-1 votes
2 answers
194 views

Why isn't the history of mechanics dated from Archimedes time?

It's often said - and more often written - and perhaps, even more spoken of - that modern physics began with Galileo due to his application of mathematics to motion. This is the position taken by ...
Mozibur Ullah's user avatar
7 votes
2 answers
521 views

What does "given in species" mean in old geometry textbooks?

I recently came across the term "triangle given in species" in Hatton's Projective Geometry. Searching in archive.org turned up other examples (such as this) of 19th century texts, and it ...
brainjam's user avatar
  • 370
6 votes
2 answers
665 views

Did Archimedes view fractions as "numbers"?

For quite some time I had the wrong impression that classical Greek mathematicians didn't use fractions. (I don't remember where I had this from.) But I recently looked into Heath's book about ...
Frunobulax's user avatar
6 votes
1 answer
175 views

Are there commented English translations of Pappus's works on conics?

I'm investigating the conics in ancient Greece, I have the works of Apollonius, Diocles and Euclid, written with great commentary (both explaining the math and the historical context) that make them ...
Joaquin Brandan's user avatar
-1 votes
1 answer
335 views

How did the Greeks label their axes?

In the current era, we label the Cartesian plane in x and y as our basis vectors, but what did the Greeks use to label their axis? The Greeks were around long before Descartes, so did they even use ...
Logan's user avatar
  • 1
5 votes
1 answer
332 views

What are the sources for Democritus’ experiment of dividing a shell down to its atoms?

It is common to find accounts of Democritus explaining his thought experiment to demonstrate the existence of atoms by taking a piece of rock/shell/cheese, and breaking it in smaller and smaller bits ...
Rodrigo A. Pérez's user avatar
9 votes
3 answers
1k views

How did Eratosthenes know the distance between Aswan and Alexandria?

In his well-known measurement of the Earth, and according to Cleomedes, Eratosthenes estimated in 5000 stades the distance between Aswan and Alexandria. Modern accounts state that he calculated the ...
xxavier's user avatar
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