Pythagoras

1995/08/02 Azkune Mendia, Iñaki - Elhuyar Fundazioa | Kaltzada, Pili - Elhuyar Zientziaren Komunikazioa

(B.C. ~570-B.C. ~480)

Greek philosopher and mathematician born in Samos. Around 570, although other birth dates have been mentioned. His family approaches Lemnos, but Pythagoras soon left his hometown to travel from Egypt and eastern lands. Pythagoras was able to know closely the mathematical basis that developed in Babylon, since the famous theorem bearing his name was known in Babylon from a thousand years before him.

A. C. Around 529 it settled in the Italian town of Crotona, in southern Italy. This is where the doctrine known as Pythagoreanism is born. This religious, moral, scientific and political movement based on the wisdom of the founder Pythagoras was joined by a large number of followers who, years after the death of Pythagoras, came to have enormous power. On the contrary, the creator was still alive when the Crotono authorities wanted to silence his followers. Therefore, the followers of Pythagoras and Pythagoras himself had never written their theories and everything we know about this movement has come to us by oral tradition.

Pythagorean fans studied mainly mathematics, astronomy and music. They took as law the harmony of the Universe and on that basis they collected all their theories. Pythagoras studied in detail the transmission of sound, following the researcher of the Ionian tradition. He defined the relationship between the height of the sounds and the length of the lyre laces, announcing that changing the length of these laces could obtain high or low tones.

In any case, the most important contribution of Pythagoras and Pythagorism is that of mathematics. They believed that numbers were the beginning and the origin of all things and opened up a mystical vision so that today we consider it a simplicity. This allowed, however, to study the mathematical properties of numbers, in which many of the basic principles of current mathematics have their origin.

The arithmetic of Pythagoras only took into account the integers. He took care of his relationship and according to tradition, it is due to the same multiplication table. Using mathematics he enunciated the theorem bearing his name, that is, in a rectangular triangle, the theorem that the sum of squares of the catetos is equal to the square of the hypotenus.

Pythagoras elaborated the theory of spheres in the field of astronomy. According to this, the cosmos is built spherical and everything inside is endowed with sacred harmony, and the harmony itself is the one that directs the movement of all spheres. This theory reached a great impact and in the following centuries the main function of astronomers was to study the laws of the spheres. It is evident that the works of heliocentrism of Copernicus, Galileo or Kepler are largely due to Pythagoras.

Although there is no reliable date on the death of Pythagoras, a. C. It is believed that it occurred around 480. About 10 years earlier, however, he had to flee from Crotona to Metaponte, where he found a philosopher whose death gave a new breath to mathematics.