antiquity

Heron of Alexandria and his Experiments

Heron of Alexandria and his Experiments

Heron of Alexandria was a Greek mathematician and engineer who was active in his native city of Alexandria, Roman Egypt in the first century AD. He is considered the greatest experimenter of antiquity. Among his most famous inventions was a windwheel, constituting the earliest instance of wind harnessing on land, as well as the well recognized description of a steam-powered device called an aeolipile. A major difficulty regarding Heron was to establish…
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Francesco Scipione, Marchese di Maffei – Writer, Antiquarian, and Art Critic

Francesco Scipione, Marchese di Maffei – Writer, Antiquarian, and Art Critic

On June 1, 1675, Italian writer and art critic, author, antiquarian and humanist Francesco Scipione, marchese di Maffei was born. His publications on Etruscan antiquities stand as incunabula of Etruscology, he engaged in running skirmishes in print with his rival in the field of antiquities, Antonio Francesco Gori. Marchese di Maffei came from an influential family in Bologna. His brother was the General Alessandro Maffei, a Lieutenant General of Infantry in Bavarian service. Marchese di…
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Aristarchus of Samos – Putting the Sun at the Right Place

Aristarchus of Samos – Putting the Sun at the Right Place

About 310 BC, ancient Greek astronomer and mathematician Aristarchus of Samos was born. He presented the first known model that placed the Sun at the center of the known universe with the Earth revolving around it. As Anaxagoras before him, he also suspected that the stars were just other bodies like the Sun. His astronomical ideas were often rejected in favor of the geocentric theories of Aristotle and Ptolemy. Apparently, Aristarchus of…
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Euclid – the Father of Geometry

Euclid – the Father of Geometry

At about 330 BC, Euclid of Alexandria was born, who often is referred to as the Father of Geometry. His Elements is one of the most influential works in the history of mathematics, serving as the main textbook for teaching mathematics (especially geometry) from the time of its publication until the late 19th or early 20th century. In the Elements, Euclid deduced the principles of what is now called Euclidean geometry from…
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Marcus Tullius Cicero – a Homo Novus

Marcus Tullius Cicero – a Homo Novus

On January 3, 106 BC, Roman philosopher, politician, lawyer, orator, political theorist, consul and constitutionalist Marcus Tullius Cicero was born. Besides his work as politician, he is widely considered one of Rome’s greatest orators and prose stylists. His influence on the Latin language was so immense that the subsequent history of prose in not only Latin but European languages up to the 19th century was said to be either a reaction against or…
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Constantine and the Battle at the Milvian Bridge

Constantine and the Battle at the Milvian Bridge

Battle of the Milvian Bridge by Giulio Romano, 1520-24 On October 28, 312 AD, the Battle of the Milvian Bridge between the Roman Emperors Constantine I and Maxentius took place. Constantine won the battle and started on the path that led him to end the Tetrarchy and become the sole ruler of the Roman Empire. According to historians, the battle marked the beginning of Constantine’s conversion to Christianity and thus fostered the rise of…
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Eudoxus and the Method of Exhaustion

Eudoxus and the Method of Exhaustion

Eudoxus, Lunar Crater As for many people from antiquity, we also have no birthdate for Eudoxus of Cnidus, who was a Greek astronomer, mathematician, scholar and student of Plato. All of his works are lost or have survived as fragments in the texts of other classical writers. He is best known for having developed the method of exhaustion, a precursor to the integral calculus. Eudoxus of Cnidus was born around 408 BC…
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Socrates and the Socratic Method

Socrates and the Socratic Method

Socrates by Leonidas Drosis, Athens – Academy of Athens Image: DIMSFIKAS at Greek Wikipedia Socrates was a classical Greek (Athenian) philosopher credited as one of the founders of Western philosophy. He remains an enigmatic figure in philosophy, because he did not leave as a single line of text. He is known chiefly through the accounts of later classical writers, especially the writings of his students Plato and Xenophon. Nevertheless, you might consider his…
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Pythagoras and his Eponymous Theorem

Pythagoras and his Eponymous Theorem

Bust of Pythagoras, Musei Capitolini, Roma. One of the founders of Western mathematics was the Greek philosopher Pythagoras of Samos. He is often revered as a great mathematician, mystic, and scientist and is best known for the Pythagorean theorem which bears his name. It was said that he was the first man to call himself a philosopher, or lover of wisdom. Anyway, his eponymous theorem possibly is the best known theorem in mathematics.…
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Thales of Miletus – (possibly) the Father of Greek Mathematics

Thales of Miletus – (possibly) the Father of Greek Mathematics

Illustration of (possibly) Thales of Miletus For today’s blog post, there is no birthday of a popular scientist. Moreover, we want to tackle famous people in the history of science, who don’t have a known birthday. This of course holds for many philosophers, mathematicians, or natural scientists of Antiquity or early Middle Ages. Today, we want to start with the father of ancient Greek mathematics, Thales of Miletus. According to Bertrand Russel, Western…
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