Famous Greek Scientists

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Greeks have been responsible for much of what we use and enjoy today. Imagine life without their inventions and discoveries – the concept of democracy would be unknown, philosophy wouldn’t have existed and no cartography and thus no navigation. Did you know that the alarm clock that wakes you up every morning to get set for the day on time was first invented by the Greeks? Yes, though the first kinds of alarm used by the Greeks weren’t as that of the present-day buzzers, they are however credited for inventing the concept of having alarm clocks. The odometer that measures the distance travelled by a vehicle has become one of the most widely employed gadgets of the current world. But did you know that it too has its roots back in Greece? And that isn’t it – Geometry, one of the oldest branches of mathematics, was studied by the Egyptians and Babylonians but it were the Greeks who laid the foundation for modern-day geometry. Thales of Miletus is regarded as the Father of Geometry. He was responsible for setting up a number of axioms and rules that were based on reasoning. Did you know that ancient civilization believed that diseases were God’s way of punishing humans? It were the Greeks who started the practice of medication. Greek scientists have thus contributed greatly for the society and the civilization. Read this section to know more about famous Greek scientists.
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 1 
Pythagoras
(Greek Philosopher, Mathematician and Founder of Pythagoreanism)
Pythagoras
40
Birthdate: 0570 BC
Birthplace: Samos, Greece
Died: 0495 BC

Pythagoras was an Ionian Greek philosopher. He is credited with many scientific and mathematical discoveries, including the Sphericity of the Earth, the Theory of Proportions, the five regular solids, Pythagorean tuning, and the Pythagorean Theorem. Pythagoras influenced other philosophers like Plato and Aristotle. His philosophy also had a major impact on personalities like Isaac Newton, Johannes Kepler, and Nicolaus Copernicus.

 2 
Euclid
(Greek Mathematician Who is Considered the 'Father of Geometry')
Euclid
19
Birthdate: 0330 AD
Birthplace: Greece
Greek mathematician Euclid, also known as Euclid of Alexandria, is remembered as the father of geometry. One of his most significant works was his book on mathematics, Elements. He had worked extensively on conic sections, spherical geometry, and number theory.
 3 
Eratosthenes
(First Person to Calculate the Circumference of the Earth and Earth's Axial Tilt)
Eratosthenes
15
Birthdate: 0276 BC
Birthplace: Cyrene, Libya, Shahat, Libya
Died: 0194 BC

Greek polymath Eratosthenes of Cyrene was a mathematician, poet, geographer, music theorist, and astronomer. He also served as the Library of Alexandria’s chief librarian. He was also the first to calculate the Earth’s circumference and the tilt of the Earth's axis. Nicknamed Pentathlos, he also invented many scientific terms.

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 4 
Thales
(Philosopher)
Thales
7
Birthdate: 0624 BC
Birthplace: Miletus Ancient Theater, Turkey
Died: 0546 BC

One of the Seven Wise Men of Greece, Thales was a 6th-century mathematician who believed that the Earth was a flat disk floating on a huge ocean. Legend has it that he had predicted a solar eclipse that stopped a major battle and had also laid down several geometrical theorems.

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 5 
Galen
(Physician)
Galen
7
Birthdate: 0130 AD
Birthplace: Pergamon, Turkey
Died: 0200 AD

Galen was a Greek physician, philosopher, and surgeon in the Roman Empire. Regarded as one of the most proficient medical researchers in ancient history, Galen influenced the growth of several scientific disciplines, such as neurology, pharmacology, pathology, physiology, and anatomy. Thanks to the translation of his works into Arabic, Galen's approach to medicine remains influential in the Islamic world.

 6 
Hero of Alexandria
(Greek Mathematician and Engineer)
Hero of Alexandria
7
Birthdate: 0010 AD
Birthplace: Alexandria, Egypt
Died: 0070 AD

Greek inventor and mathematician Hero of Alexandria is remembered for his iconic work on geometry, Metrica, which was lost for many years but was then discovered after 1896. His most significant contributions include the Heron’s formula to find the area of a triangle, the Hero engine, and a wind-harnessing machine.

 7 
Hipparchus
(Astronomer & Mathematician)
Hipparchus
12
Birthdate: 0190 BC
Birthplace: Nicaea, Kingdom of Bithynia
Died: 0120 BC
In his early years in Bithynia, Hipparchus spent most of his time compiling weather records. He devoted almost his entire life to astronomical research. Remembered as the man who founded trigonometry, he also discovered the precession of the equinoxes. However, most of his written work hasn’t survived.
 8 
Aristarchus of Samos
(Astronomer and Mathematician who presented the first known heliocentric model)
Aristarchus of Samos
12
Birthdate: 0310 AD
Birthplace: Samos, Greece
Died: 0230 AD

Aristarchus of Samos was an ancient Greek mathematician and astronomer best known for being the first person to present the heliocentric model at a time when the geocentric theories of Ptolemy and Aristotle were considered conventional. Aristarchus of Samos even estimated the sizes of the Moon and Sun and is regarded as one of the greatest thinkers of all time.

 9 
Theophrastus
(Plant biologist)
Theophrastus
9
Birthdate: 0371 BC
Birthplace: Eresos
Died: 0287 BC

Best known for his works Historia Plantarum, or Enquiry into Plants, and Plant Explanations, botanist Theophrastus hailed from Lesbos in Greece. Acquainted with Plato and Aristotle, he ruled the Peripatetic school for over 3 decades. He has also penned works on metaphysics, history, grammar, ethics, and physics.

 10 
Posidonius
(Greek Astronomer, Mathematician, Geographer and Philosopher)
Posidonius
3
Birthdate: 0135 BC
Birthplace: Apamea, Syria
Died: 0051 BC

Posidonius was a Greek astronomer, astrologer, politician, historian, mathematician, geographer, and teacher. Widely regarded as the most learned man of his generation, Posidonius took genuine interest in natural history and natural science. He worked towards spreading Stoicism to the Roman world through his personal lectures and writings. Also a philosopher, Posidonius’ works have influenced the works of several subsequent writers.     

 11 
Constantin Carathéodory
(Greek Mathematician Who Made Important Contributions to the Theory of Real Functions and to the Calculus of Variations)
Constantin Carathéodory
4
Birthdate: September 13, 1873
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Berlin, Germany
Died: February 2, 1950

Greek-origin German mathematician Constantin Carathéodory is best remembered for his work on concepts such as real functions and the calculus of variations. Initially an engineer working for a British project in Egypt, he later switched to study math. He also taught at the universities of Berlin and Munich.

 12 
Archytas
(Greek Philosopher, Mathematician and Astronomer)
Archytas
3
Birthdate: 0428 AD
Birthplace: Taranto, Italy
Died: 0347 AD

Archytas was an Ancient Greek astronomer, mathematician, philosopher, strategist, statesman, and music theorist. One of the most important and popular scientists of the Pythagorean school, Archytas is famous for founding mathematical mechanics. Also remembered as a dear friend of Plato, Archytas is also credited by Aulus Gellius with building the first self-propelled flying device which supposedly flew some 200 meters.

 13 
Christos Papadimitriou
(Writer, Mathematician, Computer scientist, University teacher)
Christos Papadimitriou
5
Birthdate: August 16, 1949
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Athens

One of the world’s most prominent computer science theorists, Christos Papadimitriou is also a professor at Columbia University. Best known for his research on computational complexity, he has also contributed to areas such as the theory of evolution, game theory, robotics, and economics. He has taught at Harvard, Stanford, and MIT, too.

 14 
Themistocles M. Rassias
(Greek Mathematician & Professor)
Themistocles M. Rassias
5
Birthdate: April 2, 1951
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Pellana, Greece

Greek mathematician and Athens Polytechnic professor Themistocles M. Rassias is known for his countless research papers and several university-level textbooks. The UCB alumnus is an expert in mathematical analysis and has won several honors and awards, including an honorary doctorate from the University of Nis in Serbia.

 15 
Philolaus
(Philosopher)
Philolaus
4
Birthdate: 0470 AD
Birthplace: Metaponto
Died: 0385 AD

Greek philosopher Philolaus is considered one of the pillars of the Pythagorean school. He promoted the number theory of Pythagoras and dismissed the theory of geocentrism, supporting the thought that the center of the universe consisted of an unseen Central Fire, around which the Sun, the Earth, and all other planets revolve.

 16 
Ctesibius of Alexandria
(Inventor, Mathematician)
Ctesibius of Alexandria
4
Birthdate: 0285 BC
Birthplace: Alexandria, Egypt
Died: 0222 BC
 17 
Berossus
(Greek Astronomer and Priest)
Berossus
3
Birthplace: Babylon

Berossus was a Babylonian writer, astronomer, and a priest of Bel Marduk. Berossus, who wrote in the Koine Greek language prevalent during the Hellenistic period, is claimed to have invented the semi-circular sundial by popular Roman architect and engineer Vitruvius.

 18 
Pythias
(Biologist)
Pythias
2
Birthplace: Greece

Pythias was a Greek embryologist and biologist best remembered for her work with her husband Aristotle. She worked with him on an encyclopedia and was responsible for collecting a range of specimens of living things. Pythias, who was also known as Pythias the Elder, had a daughter named Pythias the Younger with Aristotle.

 19 
Heraclides Ponticus
(Philosopher)
Heraclides Ponticus
2
Birthdate: 0390 AD
Birthplace: Ereğli, Turkey
Died: 0310 AD

Greek philosopher and astronomer Heraclides Ponticus was the first to suggest the phenomenon of the rotation of the Earth, a concept that didn’t become a part of mainstream astronomy until after 1,800 years. Only fragments of his original writings have survived. He studied under Plato, and managed his academy in his absence.

 20 
Theon of Alexandria
(Mathematician)
Theon of Alexandria
2
Birthdate: 0335 AD
Birthplace: Roman Empire
Died: 0405 AD

Theon of Alexandria was a Greek mathematician and scholar. He is credited with editing and arranging Euclid's prominent work Elements. He also wrote commentaries on works by Ptolemy and Euclid. Theon of Alexandria's daughter Hypatia also went on to become a famed mathematician.

 21 
Erasistratus
(Physician)
Erasistratus
2
Birthdate: 0304 AD
Birthplace: Kea, Greece
Died: 0250 AD

Greek physician Erasistratus is often regarded as the founder of physiology. Apart from co-establishing a school of anatomy in Alexandria, he conducted pathbreaking research on circulatory and nervous systems. He described the epiglottis and named the tricuspid valves of the heart. He also promoted the concept of pneumatism.

 22 
Hippias
(Author)
Hippias
2
Birthdate: 0443 AD
Birthplace: Elis, Greece
Died: 0399 AD

Greek sophist Hippias of Elis lectured on a wide range of subjects, such as grammar, history, astronomy, politics, and poetry, but is best remembered for his ground-breaking contribution to math. He discovered a curve called quadratrix. However, he finds mention in Plato’s works as an arrogant man.

 23 
Hippocrates of Chios
(Mathematician)
Hippocrates of Chios
4
Birthdate: 0470 AD
Birthplace: Chios, Greece
Died: 0410 AD

Greek mathematician Hippocrates of Chios revolutionized geometry and inspired Euclid’s Elements. Initially a merchant, he was looted by pirates. Unsuccessful in bringing them to justice in Athens, he started studying math. He was the first to author a systematic textbook of geometry. He is also known for his work on astronomy.

 24 
Menaechmus
(Mathematician)
Menaechmus
2
Birthdate: 0380 AD
Birthplace: Marmara Island, Turkey
Died: 0320 AD

Greek mathematician Menaechmus is best remembered for discovering conic sections, or the concepts of hyperbola, parabola, and ellipse. Well acquainted with Plato, he is also believed to have tutored Alexander the Great. An epigram by Greek polymath Eratosthenes has been the chief record of Menaechmus’s works.

 25 
Straton Of Lampsacus
2
Birthdate: 0335 AD
Birthplace: Lampsacus
Died: 0269 AD

Straton of Lampsacus was a Peripatetic philosopher who served as the third director of the Lyceum after the demise of Theophrastus in 287 BC. Straton or Strato is remembered for his contribution to the field of natural science. His works achieved popularity in the 17th century as it influenced several philosophers like Pierre Bayle.

 26 
Joseph Sifakis
(Computer scientist)
Joseph Sifakis
2
Birthdate: December 26, 1946
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Heraklion, Greece

Joseph Sifakis is a Greek-French academic and computer scientist who was honored with the prestigious Turing Award in 2007, along with E. Allen Emerson and Edmund M. Clarke, for his work on model checking. Joseph Sifakis is currently serving as Research Director Emeritus for the French National Centre for Scientific Research at VERIMAG laboratory in France, which he founded.

 27 
Dicaearchus
(Philosopher)
Dicaearchus
1
Birthdate: 0350 AD
Birthplace: Messina, Italy
Died: 0285 AD

Dicaearchus was a Greek philosopher, author, and geographer who studied under Aristotle in the Lyceum. Dicaearchus wrote on subjects, such as geography, politics, philosophy, and ancient Greek poets. Very few of his works have survived and among them, Life of Greece is considered the most prominent work of his career.

 28 
Menelaus of Alexandria
(Mathematician)
Menelaus of Alexandria
1
Birthdate: 0070 AD
Birthplace: Alexandria, Egypt
Died: 0140 AD

Menelaus of Alexandria was a Greek astronomer and mathematician. Sphaerica, his only book to have survived in the form of an Arabic translation, deals with the geometry of the sphere and introduces the concept of spherical triangle. The Arabic version of the book was translated again by Francesco Maurolico, a 16th century mathematician and astronomer.

 29 
Theaetetus
(Mathematician)
Theaetetus
1
Birthdate: 0417 AD
Birthplace: Athens, ancient Greece
Died: 0369 AD

Theaetetus was a Greek mathematician whose contributions on irrational lengths, discussed in Book X of Euclid's Elements, are considered his principal work. A good friend of Plato and Socrates, Theaetetus is the main character in Plato's Socratic dialogue, Theaetetus, which deals with the nature of knowledge.

 30 
Eudemus Of Rhodes
(Greek philosopher)
Eudemus Of Rhodes
1
Birthdate: 0370 AD
Birthplace: Rhodes, Greece
Died: 0300 AD

Eudemus of Rhodes was a Greek philosopher and one of the most important pupils of Aristotle. Eudemus is also credited with editing many of Aristotle's works and simplifying it to make more easily accessible. Most of his works have not survived and what remain today are citations of his work in the works of other philosophers like Theon of Smyrna.

 31 
Diocles
(Mathematician)
Diocles
1
Birthdate: 0240 AD
Birthplace: Karystos, Greece
Died: 0180 AD

Diocles was a Greek geometer and mathematician who is considered the first mathematician to prove a parabola's focal property. In geometry, a cubic plane curve called Cissoid of Diocles is named so in his honor. Although much of his work was destroyed, fragments of his book On burning mirrors went on to influence many Arabic mathematicians, including Ḥasan Ibn al-Haytham. 

 32 
Ammonius Hermiae
(Greek Philosopher, Astronomer and Mathematician)
Ammonius Hermiae
1
Birthdate: 0435 AD
Birthplace: Alexandria, Egypt
Died: 0517 AD

Ammonius Hermiae was a Greek philosopher and lecturer best remembered for delivering lectures on the works of imminent personalities like Aristotle, Plato, and Porphyry of Tyre. He also wrote commentaries on Platonic and Aristotelian works. Ammonius Hermiae is also credited with teaching several Neoplatonists like Olympiodorus of Thebes, Damascius, Simplicius of Cilicia, John Philoponus, and Asclepius of Tralles.

 33 
Conon of Samos
(Astronomer)
Conon of Samos
1
Birthdate: 0280 AD
Birthplace: Samos, Greece
Died: 0220 AD

Conon of Samos was a Greek mathematician and astronomer best known for naming the constellation Coma Berenices. As a mathematician, Pappus credits Conon of Samos with the discovery of the spiral of Archimedes. Conon is also remembered for his friendship with the popular mathematician, Archimedes. 

 34 
Michael Glycas
(Historian)
Michael Glycas
0
Birthdate: 1125 AD
Birthplace: Corfu, Greece
Died: 1204 AD

Byzantine theologian and historian Michael Glycas was from the Greek island of Corfu. Accused of conspiring against emperor Manuel I Komnenos, he was partially blinded and imprisoned but continued to write even while in prison. Verses from Prison and his chronicle remain his best-known works.

 35 
Crateuas
(Physician)
Crateuas
1
Birthplace: Unknown

Greek pharmacologist and artist Crateuas is known to have drawn the first botanical illustrations. His written works offered classification of plants and described their medicinal properties, too. His books inspired later studies in pharmacology. He was also the official physician of the ruler of Pontus, Mithridates VI.

 36 
Chrisanthi Avgerou
(Computer scientist)
Chrisanthi Avgerou
0
Birthdate: 1954 AD
Birthplace: Greece

Born in Greece, Chrisanthi Avgerou later pursued her studies and research work in information systems in England. The LSE alumna is now a professor at the same institute. She is known for her research on the role of ICT in bringing about organizational change and socio-economic development.