Democritus of Abdera

Born: about 460 BC in Abdera, Thrace, Greece
Died: about 370 BC in Not known

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Democritus is best known for his atomic theory but he was also an excellent geometer. Very little is known of his life but we know that Leucippus was his teacher. Russell in [4] writes:-

He travelled widely in southern and eastern lands in search of knowledge, he perhaps spent a considerable time in Egypt, and he certainly visited Persia. He then returned to Abdera, where he remained.
Democritus wrote many mathematical works On numbers, On geometry, On tangencies, On mappings, On irrationals but none survive. He claimed that the universe was a purely mechanical system obeying fixed laws. He explained the origin of the universe through atoms moving randomly and colliding to form larger bodies and worlds.

Democritus also believed that space is infinite, having always existed, and that the number of atoms are infinite. Democritus's philosophy contains an early form of the conservation of energy.

References (6 books/articles)

References elsewhere in this archive:

Democritus was one of the early mathematicians to investigate squaring the circle. The method of exhaustion was developed by Archimedes and led to an early determination of an approximation for pi.
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There is a Crater Democritus on the moon. You can see a list of lunar features named after mathematicians.

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JOC/EFR December 1996