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Astro*Dictionary by Michael Erlewine





2 articles for "Pythagoras"

Pythagoras [Astro*Index]


(BC582-497) Born on the island Samos, in the Aegean, he died at Metapontum (Southern Italy).

Greek philosopher and mathematician. He studied under Anaximander, and possibly under Thales. Traveled extensively in Egypt and the East. In BC529, he emigrating to Croton (southern Italy), where Greek colonization was well established, thus extending to the western edge of the Greek world the scientific methods introduced by Thales at the eastern edge of the Greek world. There he established a secret, mystical cult--which is called Pythagoreanism--with special interest in mathematics and astronomy. His discovery that musical pitch was related to the length of vibrating strings, and that mathematical ratios derived from a given fundamental length led to musical intervals, was his major scientific contribution. He also showed that the square root of two was not a rational number. His deductive proof that the "square of the hypotenuse of a right triangle is equal to the sum of the squares of the other two sides" is known today as the Pythagorean Theorem, although this result was clearly known to the ancient Egyptians. He taught that the Earth was spherical, and that the Sun, Moon, and planets travelled paths distinct from the uniform motion of the stars, and introduced the concept of individual planetary `spheres' to account for their motions. He distinguished between the Morning Star (Phosphorus) and the Evening Star (Hesperus), as but manifestations of the same planet Venus (Aphrodite).

See also: ♦ Triplicity


Astro*Index Copyright © 1997 Michael Erlewine