Have you ever wondered why there are so many Greek letters in science, math, and engineering? It turns out that there are multiple reasons why this happened. Throughout human history, we’ve always borrowed and taken things from other cultures and made it our own. You’d be hard pressed to find a society today that isn’t a patchwork quilt of victorious wars and stolen words, foods, and articles of clothing. In this newsletter, we’ll take a look at all the reasons why so many Greek letters hang out in science.
Two Alphabets is Better Than One
There are a lot of constants and variables in science and math. An alphabet with 26 letters probably isn’t enough to represent all those abstract concepts. Adding 26 more letters from a different alphabet not only gave scientists more options, but it also allowed them to distinguish between the English sentence (constructed from the Roman alphabet) with the constants or variables (denoted by the Greek letters) in them. Who doesn’t like to be clear when sciencing and mathing?
The Ancient Greeks really were the Fathers of science and math as we know them today. It’s no surprise that the Renaissance thinkers all knew Latin and Greek. These were educated, high-brown languages. Church services used to all be in Latin and if anyone was looking for more symbols in math, why not pull some from the even more high-brow Greek alphabet?
Language of Science
It’s not just the Greek symbols, scientists of the past all spoke Greek and thus, many science words are constructed from Greek roots. For example, any word in science that contains a “ch” that is pronounced as a “k” is of Greek origin. Can’t think of any? How about chlorophyll, chemistry, chlorine, mitoCHondria, you get the point. Did we mention these are also excellent spelling and pronunciation tips?
One More Thing, Frats and Sororities
Fraternities and sororities use Greek letters because the very first one to do so said that their society was dedicated to the pursuit of intellectual fellowship and education. They used the letters Phi Beta Kappa to represent their motto: Philosophia Bios Kybernethes or philosophy is the guide to life. Clearly, things have changed since then.
Come Join Our Greek Party
We wouldn’t be a true science jewelry company if we didn’t sell some of the most popular Greek letters. In our online store, we have Psi, Beta, Theta, Phi, and of course, Pi. Purchase these for yourself or for a friend. These pieces also make the perfect present for physicists, mathematicians, biologists, chemists, and starry-eyed students who love science.
written by Science with Evie