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Astro*Dictionary by Michael Erlewine





1 article for "Thales"

Thales [DeVore]


(BC624-546) Greek philosopher.

Born and died at Miletus. Journeyed to Egypt, and possibly Babylonia. Always placing his name first on any list of the Seven Wisest Men, later Greeks credited him as the founder of Greek science and most branches of knowledge, especially mathematics and philosophy. Predicted the year (but not the day) of the solar eclipse that occurred on BC585 MAY 28 which so frightened the Lydians and Medes that they signed a treaty and returned to their homes, avoiding actual conflict. Borrowing from Egyptian geometry, his is the first record (which has survived) of an attempt to create an abstract study (with imaginary lines of zero thickness). He introduced Deductive Reasoning into mathematics for the proof of certain geometric theorems – a technique to be perfected 250 years later by Euclid, and known to all modern students of Geometry. He measured the height of an Egyptian pyramid by use of "similar triangles" by the measurement of shadows, and studied the properties of magnetism. His astute advice for a political union of Miletus and the other cities of Ionia (southwest coast of Turkey) for their mutual self-defense against the kingdom of Lydia was ignored, leading to the country's ultimate destruction.


Astro*Index Copyright © 1997 Michael Erlewine