Pythagoras, the mathematician
Apart from all these activities he carried on investigations
based on mathematics. And it is for these that he is remembered
today. The credit for the concept of numbers and their functional
significance in the objective world and in the world of music is
attributed to Pythagoras. Thus he was responsible for laying
a scientific foundation for mathematics.
Undoubtedly his greatest discovery was the
hypotenuse theorem or the Pythagoras theorem as it is popularly
known. The theorem states that the square of the hypotenuse of a
right-angled triangle is equal to the sum of the squares of the
other two sides. The incommensurability of the side and diagonal of
a square is another such theorem attributed to him.
The underlying principle of the Pythagorean school was that
reality is mathematical in nature and that spiritual purification
needs philosophy. They also believed in certain symbols having a
mystical significance. Their guiding force was the belief that
“everything is in the end numerical.” They applied the number
concept to almost everything like music, acoustics, astronomy and,
of course, geometry.
Pythagoreans were among the first to consider the concept of the
earth being a spherical structure revolving around the sun along
with other planets. Copernicus is said to have acknowledged the
Pythagorean astronomical concepts as being the forerunner of his own
theory about the earth and the other planets and their movement in
relation to the sun.
politics proved to be the undoing of the brotherhood. And once the
brotherhood began on its downward swing, Pythagoras retired to
Metapontum and lived there till he breathed his last. The
Pythagorean brotherhood became almost extinct by about the middle of
the fourth century.