Archimedes

 

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287 BC – 212 BC

Mathematician, Scientist, Astronomer, Inventor

Greek

“Archimedes will be remembered when Aeschylus is forgotten because languages die and mathematical ideas do not.” -- G.H. Hardy

“Eureka!” (“I have found it!”)

Archimedes requested that at his grave there be a cylinder containing a sphere along with the inscription of his theorem that the sphere is exactly two-thirds of the cylinder in both surface and volume.

When Archimedes was asked to solve a problem, he would contemplate and make calculations until he had the answer or until he invented something which could fix the problem. It has been said that while stepping into his bath, he realized he had displaced water and then ran naked through the city streets crying, “Eureka!” He had discovered the principles of density and buoyancy, known as Archimedes’ principle. Egyptian farmers still use the irrigation device (called the Archimedean Screw) he invented more than 2,000 years ago. He also invented clever machines, which defended Syracuse from the Romans for years. One of his war machines could actually lift whole ships out of the water and destroy them. In spite of his remarkable inventions, Archimedes considered his real work to be in mathematics. He worked in arithmetic and trigonometry, and he laid the foundation for calculus. He made many discoveries in geometry -- one of the most important was how to measure the area and circumference of a circle. He initiated the sciences of mechanics and hydrostatics. He discovered the laws of levers and pulleys. When the Romans finally conquered Syracuse, the Roman General, Marcellas, wanted to meet and honor the man who had outsmarted them for so long. Unfortunately, an ignorant Roman soldier stopped Archimedes because he wouldn’t quit writing equations in the sand.