Top 17 Famous Greek Scientists That You Should Know

Top 17 Famous Greek Scientists That You Should Know

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To celebrate scientists and scientific advancements, we have collected a list of the most famous Greek scientists that will inspire us for the greater good.

Did you know that some of the greatest scientists in history were actually Greek?

From Aristotle to Archimedes, the Greek people were home to some of the most brilliant minds in human history. 

But what exactly makes them so special? What was it about their culture and education that gave rise to these brilliant minds? And how can we emulate their success today?

Let’s look at some famous Greeks and see what makes them so great!

Famous Greek Scientists

#17. Hipparchus (190 BC-120 BC): The Father of Astronomy

Credits: Wikipedia; Famous Greek Scientists
Credits: Wikipedia

What makes Hipparchus famous?

Hipparchus was one of the most outstanding scientists in ancient Greece. He is best known for his theories concerning the solar and lunar motions.

Hipparchus lived during a time characterized by astronomical, geographical, and mathematical discoveries.

He is widely regarded as one of the most influential figures in ancient astronomy because he developed methods for measuring solar motion accurately and precisely. 

Hipparchus also devised several methods for calculating distances between stars and planets on Earth’s surface using trigonometry. He could reliably predict eclipses and even discovered the precession of the equinoxes—the slow change in the direction of Earth’s axis over time.

But one of Hipparchus’ most remarkable achievements was likely his star catalog. This was an extensive list of stars visible to astronomers during that period. Hipparchus’s catalog would later be used by many scientists when creating their own lists of stars visible from around the globe.

[Source: Encyclopedia Britannica]

#16. Galen (AD 129-AD 216): The Greek  Scientist Whose Ideas Influenced Science

Credits: Finacial Times; Famous Greek Scientists
Credits: Finacial Times

What makes Galen famous?

Galen was a Greek physician in the Roman Empire who is best known for his contributions to pathology, pharmacology, physiology, neurology, and anatomy. He used animals such as pigs and apes to understand the human body. 

Galen’s work influenced medicine for centuries after his death. However, many of his beliefs about how the body works were incorrect or incomplete. 

This can be seen in the theory of humor: he believed one’s health depended on keeping four humors in balance—blood, phlegm, yellow bile, and black bile.

[Source: Encyclopedia Britannica]

#15. Aristarchus of Samos (310 BC-230 BC): The Man Who Changed How We View The Universe

Credits: World History Encyclopedia; Famous Greek Scientists
Credits: World History Encyclopedia

What makes Aristarchus famous?

Aristarchus of Samos is the guy who thought up the idea that our planet revolves around the Sun. This Greek astronomer lived in Samos, an island in modern-day Turkey.

Aristarchus is best known for his heliocentric model of the universe, which states that our planet revolves around the Sun instead of the Earth being at its center. 

This marked a shift from the geocentric model—which had been popular since ancient times. It changed how people viewed their place in the universe forever.

Many people rejected Aristarchus’ theory at first. But his ideas eventually gained traction and became widely accepted by scientists and philosophers.

[Source: Encyclopedia Britannica]

#14. Themistocles M. Rassias (1951-Present): One of The Brilliant Mathematicians Today

Credits: Wikipedia; Famous Greek Scientists
Credits: Wikipedia

What makes Themistocles M. Rassias famous?

Themistocles M. Rassias is best known for publishing some of science’s most frequently cited works.

This Greek mathematician and professor devoted his life to studying how we can use math to understand human behavior. 

Rassias has published more than 200 papers. He is one of only a few academics to have published over 100 papers in mathematics.

[Source: Wikipedia]

#13. Theophrastus (371 BC-287 BC): The Father of Botany

Credits: The Atlantic

What makes Theophrastus famous?

If you’re a fan of science and nature, you might know him as the guy who invented the science of botany. He’s also known for his contributions to physics, metaphysics, and ethics. In other words, he was a pretty big deal in ancient Greece.

Theophrastus was Aristotle’s successor and one of the most influential thinkers of his time. His works on plants were significant in ancient Greek culture and are still used today. The books include On the Causes of Plants and Enquiry into Plants.

Theophrastus was not only known for his contributions to science, but he also believed that happiness depended on virtue and external influences.

[Source: Encyclopedia Britannica]

#12. Christos Papadimtriou (1949-Present): A Leading Computer Science Theorist

Credits: UC Berkeley; Famous Greek Scientists
Credits: UC Berkeley

What makes Christos Papadimtriou famous?

Christos Papadimitriou is a Greek computer scientist and professor. He’s best known for his contributions to computational complexity, which he has used to solve several problems in computer science.

He is most famous for co-writing a scientific paper with Bill Gates. The paper was about pancake sorting. In 2004, Papadimitriou won the Charles Babbage Award, which recognizes outstanding contributions to computer science. 

[Source: Columbia University]

#11. Posidonius (135 BC-51 BC): One of The Greatest Greek Polymaths

Credits: Greatest Greeks; Famous Greek Scientists
Credits: Greatest Greeks

What makes Posidonius famous?

In the ancient world, there was no shortage of polymaths. And in the golden age of polymaths, there’s no shortage of polymaths who have been forgotten. But some are still remembered today—like Posidonius.

He was an ancient Greek polymath who was a philosopher, geographer, astronomer, mathematician, historian, and natural scientist.

Posidonius is best known for his important contributions to astronomy. He attempted to calculate the size of the Earth and the Sun’s magnitude. Posidonius also tried to determine how the moon affects tides.

What’s the best Posidonius quote?

“Riches are a cause of evil, not because, of themselves, they do any evil, but because they goad men on to evil.”

[Source: Encyclopedia Britannica]

#10. Joseph Sifakis (1946-Present): The Turing Award-Winning Computer Scientist

Credits: The Alchetron

What makes Joseph Sifakis famous?

Joseph Sifakis is a Greek-born computer scientist most famous for developing property checking in computer science. 

In 2007, Sifakis received the prestigious Turing Award alongside E. Emerson and Edmund Clarke.

Sifakis was born in Crete, Greece, in 1946. He received his electrical engineering and computer science degrees from the National Technical University of Athens and the University of Grenoble.

[Source: A.M. Turing ]

#9. Menaechmus (380 BC-320 BC): One of The Math Wizards of Ancient Greece

Credits: Alchetron; Famous Greek Scientists
Credits: Alchetron

What makes Menaechmus famous?

Menaechmus was a Greek mathematician who came up with the solution to a problem that had been troubling mathematicians for centuries—the Delian problem. He also discovered conic sections—hyperbolas, parabolas, circles, and ellipses.

Menaechmus was Plato’s friend, and other scientists called him “the master.” His accomplishments are so impressive even though he lived over 2,000 years ago.

But despite all this, Menaechmus doesn’t get nearly as much attention as other Greek mathematicians like Euclid or Pythagoras.

[Source: Encyclopedia Britannica]

#8. Claudius Ptolemy (100 AD-170 AD): The Greek Polymath Who Proposed That The Earth Was At The Centre of Our Solar System

Credits: New Scientist; Famous Greek Scientists
Credits: New Scientist

What makes Claudius Ptolemy famous?

Claudius Ptolemy was a Greek polymath who was born in Egypt. He’s best known for developing the geocentric model, which means that he believed Earth was at the center of our solar system.

His work made it possible for other scientists to correctly predict astronomical phenomena like eclipses, which were important back then.

Ptolemy also wrote an encyclopedia called the Almagest, which contained star catalogs and information about planetary motions. The work was so influential that it remained the standard astronomy text for over a 1000 years.

What’s the best Claudius Ptolemy quote?

“Everything that is hard to attain is easily assailed by the generality of men.”

[Source: Encyclopedia Britannica]

#7. Euclid: The Father of Geometry

Credits: World History Encyclopedia, Famous Greek Scientists
Credits: World History Encyclopedia

What makes Euclid famous?

Euclid was a Greek mathematician who provided early books on many branches of science.

He is best known for having written Elements, one of the most important math texts. It provided the groundwork for geometry. He is credited with creating Euclidean geometry as we know it today.

Many scientists used this treatise to teach students all over Europe for centuries after it was written.

Euclid’s other work included Optics, which was essential in the field of optics, and Data, which provided some of his most famous mathematical results.

What’s the best Euclid quote?

“The laws of nature are but the mathematical thoughts of God.”

[Source: Encyclopedia Britannica]

#6. Eratosthenes (276 BC – 194 BC): The Greek Polymath Who Pioneered Geography 

Credits: The Famous People; Famous Greek Scientists
Credits: The Famous People

What makes Eratosthenes famous?

Eratosthenes was a Greek polymath. He was a philosopher, mathematician, geographer, astronomer, and poet. 

Eratosthenes is best known for his passion for learning. He became a high-ranking official (chief librarian) at the famous Library of Alexandria and developed an interest in geography and astronomy.

He is regarded as one of the most important figures in geography. This scientist attempted to determine the Earth’s circumference.

Eratosthenes also contributed to many other scientific fields, such as mathematics. He is credited with developing what came to be known as the Sieve of Eratosthenes. This is an algorithm capable of finding prime numbers.

[Source: Encyclopedia Britannica]

#5. Thales: The Father of Science

Credits: Wikipedia; Famous Greek Scientists
Credits: Wikipedia

What makes Thales famous?

Thales was a Greek mathematician and astronomer best known for being one of the wise men of ancient Greece. He lived to be about 78 years old.

Thales is credited with being one of the first people to transition from mythologies to using theories to describe phenomena in the world. He used geometry to calculate the distances and heights of objects, such as pyramids.

What’s the best Thales quote?

“What man is happy? He who has a healthy body, a resourceful mind, and a docile nature.”

[Source: Encyclopedia Britannica]

#4. Aristotle (384 BC-322 BC): The Father of Biology

Credits: Toolshero; Famous Greek Scientists
Credits: Toolshero

What makes Aristotle famous?

Aristotle was one of the smartest men in the world. This Greek polymath is best known as a philosopher, but he also contributed to several other fields, including zoology and physics.

In his books, Aristotle described the morphology and behavior of various cephalopods, catfish, frogfish, and other sea creatures. He also studied ruminants and explained their hearts.

Aristotle had an idea about evolution but believed it resulted from accidents. Charles Darwin, who held the same views, developed his theory of evolution.

What’s the best Aristotle quote?

“Those who know, do. Those that understand, teach. “

[Source: Encyclopedia Britannica]

#3. Hippocrates of Kos (460 BC-370 BC): The Father of Medicine

Credits: The Conversation; Famous Greek Scientists
Credits: The Conversation

What makes Hippocrates famous?

Hippocrates of Kos is known (by a section of scientists) as the original brain behind the Hippocratic Oath. This was the first written code of ethics for doctors. His ideas revolutionized medicine and made him a household name for centuries.

Hippocrates is credited with being one of the first physicians to use clinical observation and prognosis as part of patient care. This practice was previously unheard-of. 

What’s the best Hippocrates quote?

“If someone wishes for good health, one must first ask oneself if he is ready to do away with the reason for his illness. Only then is it possible to help him. “

[Source: Encyclopedia Britannica]

#2. Archimedes (287 BC-212 BC): The Guy Responsible For The Archimedes Principle 

Credits: ZME Science; Famous Greek Scientists
Credits: ZME Science

What makes Archimedes famous?

You’ve probably heard of Archimedes, the ancient Greek scientist who made a big splash in the world of astronomy, physics, and mathematics. But did you know that he is one of the top scientists in the history of science?

Archimedes is best known for discovering the principle that explains the buoyancy of objects in liquids. This came to be the Archimedes Principle.

He also invented the compound pulley and the screw pump, which were essential innovations in the history of technology.

When Archimedes lived in Syracuse during his childhood, he helped build machines that could be used to defend against Roman invaders. Growing up, he continued working on many inventions related to defense systems for cities all over Greece.

His contributions were so significant that engineers and mathematicians still use them today.

What’s the best Archimedes quote?

“Give me a place to stand and I will move the earth.”

[Source: Encyclopedia Britannica]

#1. Pythagoras of Samos (570 BC-495 BC): The Greek Scientist Who Revolutionized Science

Credits: Idea For Today; Famous Greek Scientists
Credits: Idea For Today

What makes Pythagoras of Samos famous?

Pythagoras of Samos was a Greek philosopher known for making incredible contributions to science and mathematics.

This ancient Greek scientist established a school in Italy that consisted of the Pythagoreans.

This group of ancient Greek philosophers lived by a strict code of silence. They believed their bodies were mere vessels for their souls, which would be reincarnated after death.

Pythagoras also thought that numbers could explain everything in the universe. He believed that certain numbers had special powers and qualities.

Pythagoras made contributions to science. He developed the Pythagorean theorem. This says the sum of the squares of two sides of a right triangle equals the square of their hypotenuse. Pythagoras also came up with the Pythagorean tuning and theory of proportions.

We still use many of the concepts attributed to the Pythagoras of Samos. He remains one of the most influential ancient Greek scientists.

What’s the best Pythagoras quote?

“The soul of man is divided into three parts, intelligence, reason, and passion. Intelligence and passion are possessed by other animals, but reason by man alone.”

[Source: Encyclopedia Britannica]

Final Thoughts

The Greeks were a civilization that was known for its love of learning and knowledge. Their advancements in science, math, and philosophy are still relevant today. 

These Greek scientists were just as curious about the world around them as we are today—no wonder they made such incredible discoveries.

We hope you enjoyed reading about these great thinkers. Let’s know who you’d want to see on this list.

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Joannah W.
Joannah has been a science publisher with close to 20 years of experience. She wants to help students and researchers stay ahead of the trends and developments in the science community by making science more accessible to everyone.

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