Greek Gamma Symbol And Its Meaning, The Third Letter Of The Greek Alphabet

In today’s post, we will carry on our series about the Greek symbols and their meanings by delving into the origin, meanings and uses of the Greek Gamma symbol. Read on to learn all about it.

With its complex government system and rich architecture, Greece has been considered an exceptional model of mathematic and scientific achievement until today.

Greek Gamma Symbol, Third letter in Greek alphabet
Greek Gamma Symbol, the Third Letter of the Greek Alphabet by Niakris6

Ancient scholars in and out of Greece needed the means to communicate their studies, theories, formulas, and findings.

So, they widely conversed in Greek and Latin. To maintain universality, scholars published their work and ideas using those two languages. Because of this, understanding between scholars was possible even though their native languages were different.

Variables used in scientific and mathematical formulas and solutions required symbols that will represent them in writing. Whenever scholars needed a symbol to represent a new finding or idea, the Greek alphabet proved to be the most viable source of symbols.

As the third letter of the Greek alphabet, gamma (γάμμα ) has also been utilized to represent various mathematical and scientific concepts, from specific gravity to complex propagation constants. In this post, we take a look at the origins, meanings, and uses of the Greek gamma symbol.

Gamma Symbol Meaning and Origin

The Greek letter Gamma is written as (Γ) in uppercase and (γ) in lowercase. It is known to have been derived from the Phoenician letter representing the /g/ phoneme, (𐤂‎ gīml). As such, it is also related to the Hebrew letter gimel which is represented by the symbol ג.

Based on its name “gamma”, it has been thought to represent a camel’s neck. However, this interpretation is widely challenged.

Some believe that the letter was actually derived from an Egyptian hieroglyph that represented a throwing stick or club.

In the Greek numeral system, gamma represents the value of 3. Furthermore, gamma represents the “g” sound in both Ancient and Modern Greek.

Some letters in other alphabets were also derived from gamma. These are the Roman C and the Cyrillic Г.

Various Usages of the Gamma Symbol in Math and Science

Typically, when Greek letters such as the gamma are used in science or math, their form is somehow different from the letter used in the Greek alphabet.

The reason for this is isolation and distinction from other concepts that may also use the gamma as their symbolism basis.

Uses of the Lowercase Gamma Symbol

The most common and popular use for the lowercase gamma (γ) is related to radiation. Specifically, the Gamma radiation.

It is also used in neuroscience as the Gamma waves, a type of brain wave.
It is also used to represent chromatic numbers in graph theory.

It also represents the photon, which is a type of elementary particle found in light and other forms of electromagnetic radiation. In materials science, the gamma symbolizes surface energy.

Meanwhile, the gamma also plays a significant part in the theory of relativity, as it represents the Lorentz factor.

Gamma also has multiple uses in thermodynamics, where it represents heat capacity ratio and activity coefficient.

On the other hand, it symbolizes the gyromagnetic ratio in electromagnetism. It also symbolizes the propagation constant of electromagnetic waves.

In mathematics, the lowercase gamma represents the Euler-Mascheroni constant.
The lowercase gamma is also used in civil and mechanical engineering. It represents specific weight, as well as the solid solution of iron, Austenite.

Uses of the Uppercase Gamma Letter

The uppercase gamma (Γ) also has various uses in different fields. In mathematics, it is popularly used for the gamma function, which represents the extension of the factorial in complex numbers.

Uppercase gamma is also used to signify upper incomplete gamma function, as well as P-adic gamma function.

Meanwhile, in differential geometry, the uppercase gamma is used to represent Christoffel symbols.

In statistics and probability theory, it is used for the gamma distribution. Uppercase gamma also represents the reflection coefficient in electrical engineering and physics.

In fluid mechanics, circulation is symbolized by an uppercase gamma.
The Greek symbol is also used in inorganic chemistry to represent a molecule’s symmetry elements. The uppercase gamma also symbolizes the decay width of a particle.

It also signifies the typing environment in a type system, as well as a Turing machine’s tape alphabet.

How to Type the Gamma Symbol

Because of the wide range of usage for the Greek gamma symbol, one may eventually find the need to type and insert its lower and uppercase forms in documents and web pages. Here are ways to type and insert the gamma symbol when using a computer.

Alt Codes for the Gamma Sign

ALT codes can be used and entered directly on many programs, including Microsoft Word and Adobe Photoshop.

However, not all ALT codes work on all programs. Certain keyboards also do not allow the entry of ALT codes.

Regardless, you can try the following steps to enter a lowercase and uppercase gamma symbol in your document.

  • Make sure the NUM LOCK is turned on.
  • Press the ALT key, then type 947 for the lowercase gamma symbol, and 226 or 915 for the uppercase symbol.

How to Insert the Gamma Symbol

For Office applications such as Word and PowerPoint, and other similar apps, you can simply use the Insert tab.

  • Go to the Insert tab, then click Symbol. The Symbol dialog box will pop up.
  • Look for the Font dropdown, then choose Symbol as the font.
  • Then, look for the symbol you need to insert, which is the uppercase or lowercase gamma.
  • Click Insert, then click on X at the upper right corner of the dialog box to close it.

HTML Codes for the Gamma Symbol

Meanwhile, if you are creating a web page and allowed to create an HTML document, you can use the following HTML codes:

  • Uppercase Gamma: Γ or Γ
  • Lowercase Gamma: γ or γ

Unicodes for the Gamma Symbol

Furthermore, you can also use Unicode text to enter gamma symbols. Here are the steps:

  • Place the cursor in the spot where you need to insert a gamma symbol.
  • Type 0393 to insert an uppercase gamma and 03B3 for a lowercase gamma.
  • Then, press Alt+X.
  • The code should automatically change to show the respective gamma symbol.

This wraps up our article on the Greek Gamma symbol, its meaning and various uses. If you liked reading it, you should check out our pieces on the Pi symbol here and the Theta symbol here. See you in the next post.

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