Ancient Greek Physics

Griechische Physik

Ancient Greek Physics and Meteorology

The word “physics,” comes from the Greek word phusis (φύσις). This is usually translated as “nature,” but not nature in the sense that we usually use the word. Aristotle might say that phusis is the internal activity that makes anything what it is. Our word for nature comes from Latin roots having to do with birth and growth, and these associations are present in the Greek word as well. It is in the “nature” of a human embryo to develop into a fetus, to be born, and eventually to become a mature human being. This is the internal activity that makes it what it is. One of Aristotle’s most influential books is entitled simply Phusis, or as it is always translated, Physics. Alfred. W. Stetz , Beginning with Aristotle, Life, the Universe and Everything

It is scarcely an exaggeration to say that even in 1900 the only new idea to Leucippus's theory was that each chemical element was identified with a separate atomic species. David Park, The How and the Why: An Essay on the Origins and Development of Physical Theory. Princeton NJ: Princeton University Press, 1990.

What I am going to tell you about is what we teach . . . you’re not going to be able to understand it. You see, my physics students don’t understand it either. That is because I don’t understand it. Nobody does. Richard Feynman. QED. The strange theory of light and matter

Ancient Greek physics mainly started with Archimedes and his mechanics of the lever and hydrostatic discoveries. Democritus, Leucippus and other provided the first atomic model. Geometric optics was also developed and atmospheric physics phenomena were studied. Plato's mathematical Universe model using regular polyhedra and triangles as constituents of the world is the first theory of everything (TOE) similar to modern theories such as Superstrings, that are mathematical and symmetry based. Recently a dodecahedron shaped Universe is proposed. Even if some day maybe we will have a theory that explains everything probably it will predict almost nothing as the results depends so sensitive on the initial conditions and whatever our accuracy is we will only be able to make short terms predictions. I think that an ancient Greek said this also before 2000 years:
Because gods perceive future things, men what is happening now, but
wise men perceive approaching things. Philostratus, Life of Apollonius of Tyana, VIII, 7.

Atmospheric Physics: The Northern Lights, the Arctic and Antarctic, the Cycle of Water, Tornadoes and other Phenomena

Electricity and Magnetism

The dark band of Alexander in the Rainbow

Plato's mathematical Universe, Werner Heisenberg and is our Universe a dodecahedron? Time as an image of eternity

Aristotle a Reason that Physics did not advance for centuries? , Continuity and the Void

Aristotle's Life from Diogenes Laertios

Archimedes counting the maximum constituents of the Universe
Archimedes burning mirrors; Theory and Practice
Archimedes discoveries in the Bath

The atoms are in continual motion through all eternity, Epicurus, Letter to Herodotus

Discovery of Atoms; Democritus, Epicurus and others and Aristotle's questions if time and space are “continuous”
a) Democritus Life , b) Epicurus: Letter to Herodotus (a summary of his atomic theory) , c) Arguments against Atoms

Antisthenes: Plato, I see particular horses, but not horseness.
Plato: That is because you have eyes but no intelligence.

Optics, What the ancient Greeks knew

So the vessels called yheia by the Greeks, which are placed in certain recesses under the seats of theatres, are fixed and arranged with a due regard to the laws of harmony and physics, their tones being fourths, fifths, and octaves; so that when the voice of the actor is in unison with the pitch of these instruments, its power is increased and mellowed by impinging thereon. Vitruvius, de Architectura

The use of tuned Helmholz resonators as amplification in the ancient theaters (St. Paul's clanging cymbal...If I speak in the tongues of men )

Predicting Modern Science: Epicurus versus Mohammed

Socrates searching for explanations of natural phenomena and how he explains atmospheric phenomena (Aristophanes)

Physics Links


Suda On Line: Byzantine Lexicography