Great Inventions of the Greeks August 14, 2014 00:00

Greek culture and history is, in a way, a history of the human world, as the Greeks have been around for thousands of years - even if Greece was itself conquered by others (like the Roman and Ottoman empires). Just as the people of Greece have lived on and survived for hundreds of generations, many inventions and innovations have lived on through various cultural changes as well.

We would like to take this time to acknowledge and appreciate some of the great Greek innovations that are vital to even today's cultural and societal fabric. What we will mention here are some creations that have an impact in modern society and education - what do you recognize?

Democracy

The concept of government in which all eligible people in a society has direct or indirect control of the governing body. Was instituted in Greek city-states like Athens as early as the sixth century B.C. The most common form of this governance today is the representative democracy, like the United States.

Euclidean Geometry

Euclid, a mathematician during the age of Alexander the Great, developed "Elements" about geometry, and included several postulates and "common notions" that have withstood the test of time. Do you remember the Transitive Property of Equality? How about the Reflexive Property? These are from Euclid.

Flexible Glass

No, Apple did not come up with this just recently for its iPhone design. However, this story has been called a legend for years. Word is that flexible glass came about from a craftsman in Greece during the time of Emperor Tiberius, who reigned from 14-37 A.D. The craftsman, whose name was not known, came to the emperor with a curved glass drinking bowl to show his skill. Supposedly, Tiberias threw it to the ground and it dented instead of broke, and the craftsman fixed the dent with a hammer. Instead of being impressed, Tiberias felt threatened by the man's knowledge and thus had him beheaded.

Frappe Coffee

Starbucks cannot lay claim to this foam-covered iced beverage. It apparently was invented "by accident" in 1957 in the Greek town of Thessaloniki, at the International Trade Fair by an employee of the Nestle Company. After gaining high popularity in Greece and Cyprus, it found its way around the world in the decades since.

Golden Ratio

This wasn't so much invented as it was discovered by Greeks when they found that this ratio was appearing often in certain calculations, and even in nature. It is believed to be a "natural" or "divine" ratio that was discovered and put to form some 2,500 years ago. It's simplest math definition is that the square of the golden ratio minus the golden ratio equals 1. Its approximate value is 1.618033.