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"Nature is an infinite sphere, whose center is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere" -- Blaise Pascal

Cenotaph for Newton (1784) by French architect Étienne-Louis Boullée
Cenotaph for Newton (1784) by French architect Étienne-Louis Boullée

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

A circle is a simple shape of Euclidean geometry that is the set of all points in a plane that are at a given distance from a given point, the centre. The distance between any of the points and the centre is called the radius. It can also be defined as the locus of a point equidistant from a fixed point.


The word "circle" derives from the Greek κίρκος (kirkos), itself a metathesis of the Homeric Greek κρίκος (krikos), meaning "hoop" or "ring". The origins of the words "circus" and "circuit" are closely related.

The circle has been known since before the beginning of recorded history. Natural circles would have been observed, such as the Moon, Sun, and a short plant stalk blowing in the wind on sand, which forms a circle shape in the sand. The circle is the basis for the wheel, which, with related inventions such as gears, makes much of modern machinery possible. In mathematics, the study of the circle has helped inspire the development of geometry, astronomy, and calculus.

Early science, particularly geometry and astrology and astronomy, was connected to the divine for most medieval scholars, and many believed that there was something intrinsically "divine" or "perfect" that could be found in circles.

Some highlights in the history of the circle are:

  • 1700 BCE – The Rhind papyrus gives a method to find the area of a circular field. The result corresponds to (3.16049...) as an approximate value of pi.
  • 300 BCE – Book 3 of Euclid's Elements deals with the properties of circles.
  • In Plato's Seventh Letter there is a detailed definition and explanation of the circle. Plato explains the perfect circle, and how it is different from any drawing, words, definition or explanation.
  • 1880 CE– Lindemann proves that pi is transcendental, effectively settling the millennia-old problem of squaring the circle.

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Circle" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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