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Table of Contents
Eratosthenes was an ancient Greek mathematician, geographer, and astronomer. He existed from 276 B.C. until 194 B.C. and is most notable for having the first accurate calculation of the Earth’s circumference. He lived and worked in the Egyptian city of Alexandria for much of his life.
See the fact file below for more information on the Eratosthenes or alternatively, you can download our 21-page Eratosthenes worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
- Eratosthenes of Cyrene was born in 276 BC in the city of Cyrene, Libya.
- He was a Greek scientific writer, astronomer, poet, mathematician, and music theorist.
- Eratosthenes would have studied at the local gymnasium like any young Greek at the time, where he learned physical skills and social interaction as well as reading, writing, arithmetic, poetry, and music.
- Eratosthenes went to Athens to advance his studies. There he was taught Stoicism by its founder, Zeno of Citium. He then studied under Aristo of Chios who was in charge of a more pessimistic philosophical school.
- From 240 BC until his death, Eratosthenes was head of the Library of Alexandria, the most important library of the ancient world.
- His contemporaries called him Beta, according to the Suda, because he was the second best in almost any field in the world.
- He wrote poems: one named Hermes in hexameters, describing the history of the gods’ creation. Another is elegiacs, called Erigone, explaining the suicide of Erigone (daughter of Icarius), the Athenian maiden.
- Eratosthenes also published Olympic Victors, a chronology of Olympic Games champions.
- Eratosthenes accepted the invitation from Ptolemy and moved to Alexandria where he lived for the rest of his life.
- He was Chief Librarian within about five years. He tutored the children of Ptolemy as the head of the library.
- Eratosthenes was a friend of Archimedes and made several important contributions to mathematics and science.
- He invented the armillary sphere, around 255 BC.
- Eratosthenes believed that every nation had both good and evil, and criticised Aristotle for arguing that humanity was divided into Greeks and barbarians.
MEASURING THE EARTH
- More than 2,000 years ago Eratosthenes compared the position of the Sun’s rays in two places to determine with fair accuracy the spherical scale of the Planet.
- The calculation of the circumference of Earth is the most prominent among the results obtained by Eratosthenes, who calculated that the meridian is 252,000 stadia wide.
- By dividing the length of the leg opposite the angle (the length of the shadow) by the leg adjacent to the angle (the height of the pole) Eratosthenes may calculate the angle of the Sun’s rays off the vertical.
- This gave him a 7.12 degree angle.
- Eratosthenes realized that Earth’s circumference represented a circle of 360 degrees, so somewhere about one-fiftieth of the circumference should be 7.12 (or 7.2, to divide 360 equally by 50). He also knew about the approximate distance between Alexandria and Syene.
- The distance from Alexandria to Syene was calculated by Eratosthenes as 5,000 stadia, or about 500 miles (800 kilometres). From the time it took walkers, trained to calculate distances by taking routine measurements, to trek among the towns, he made this calculation. He measured the circumference of 250,000 stadia, or 25,000 miles (40,000 kilometres), by solving the equation.
- Eratosthenes suggested a basic algorithm that could be used to find prime numbers. Through mathematics, this algorithm is known as the Eratosthenes Sieve.
- In mathematics, the sieve of Eratosthenes is an ancient algorithm used to find all prime numbers up to any given limit.
SUMMARY OF ACHIEVEMENTS
- The Suda Lexicon described Eratosthenes as Pentathlos, which can be translated as “All-Rounder,” because he has been skilled in a variety of things.
- Eratosthenes measured the scale of the Planet with a fair precision. He also saw that heaven seemingly revolved around Earth once a day. The axis of rotation formed an imaginary line around Earth’s center from the north pole to the south pole.
- He made the world’s first map, featuring meridian lines and parallel lines. They were identical to those on our current latitude and longitude axes.
- He invented the armillary sphere, the most important instrument in astronomy for 1800 years.
- As Eratosthenes aged, he contracted ophthalmia and becoming blind about 195 BC. He became frustrated and depressed by losing his ability to read and understand, leading him to wilfully starve himself to death. He died in Alexandria in 194 BC.
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about the Eratosthenes across 21 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Eratosthenes worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about Eratosthenes who was an ancient Greek mathematician, geographer, and astronomer. He existed from 276 B.C. until 194 B.C. and is most notable for having the first accurate calculation of the Earth’s circumference. He lived and worked in the Egyptian city of Alexandria for much of his life.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Eratosthenes Facts
- Names in History
- Biographical Profile
- Q & A
- Armillary Sphere
- Describe Me
- Earth’s Measure
- All Rounder
- Eratosthenes Sieve
- Word Bank
- Gods’ Creation
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Use With Any Curriculum
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