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Archimedes

Greek: Αρχιμηδης
Who: Archimedes was an Inventor, Mathematician, Physicist, Engineer and astronomer
Born: 287 B.C.
Died: 212 B.C. (75 years)
Lived: Syracuse, Sicily (of Magna Graecia)

Archimedes by Domenico Fetti (1620)

Archimedes by Domenico Fetti (1620)

Archimedes of Syracuse was born in the seaport city of Syracuse, Sicily, at that time a colony of Magna Graecia (Greater Greece). He is considered to be one of the smartest people to have ever lived, and was centuries ahead of his time. One of his works, the Archimedes Palimpsest, was once lost for centuries before being rediscovered in 1906 in a library in Constantinople. It is said that if this manuscript was discovered earlier the world we live in would be a different place, we may have well have landed on Mars by now. Among the works this manuscript contained were; the Equilibrium of Planes, Spiral Lines, Measurement of a Circle, On the Sphere and Cylinder, On Floating Bodies, The Method of Mechanical Theorems and Stomachion.

Archimedes is also regarded as one of the leading scientists in classical antiquity. Among his advances in physics are the foundations of hydrostatics, statics and the explanation of the principle of the lever. He is credited with designing innovative machines, including siege engines and the screw pump that bears his name. Some of his greatest inventions included a machine capable of lifting attacking ships out of the water (The Claw of Archimedes) and also setting ships on fire using an array of mirrors, which would’ve been used to protect the city of Syracuse from the attacking Roman Empire. He also is credited for inventing a complex scientific calculator that was used to calculate astronomical positions in the sky, named the antikythera mechanism after it was discovered off of the Greek island of Antikythera in the early 1900′s by a crew of Greek sponge divers (on display in the National Archaeological Museum of Athens).

Archimedes died during the Siege of Syracuse by the Roman Empire when he was killed by a Roman soldier despite orders that he should not be harmed. According to Plutarch, Archimedes was working on a mathematical diagram when a Roman Soldier commanded that he would meet his General. Instead Archimedes told that soldier to wait until he finished his problem. Enraged, the soldier killed him with his sword.

Archimedes achievements:

  • Archimedes had proven that the sphere has two thirds of the volume and surface area of the cylinder (including the bases of the latter), and regarded this as the greatest of his mathematical achievements.
  • Archimedes used the method of exhaustion to approximate the value of π.
  • The Archimedes screw was used to raise water.
  • The exclamation Eureka! (a Greek word meaning: I have found it!) was used after Archimedes discovered that the volume of water displaced must be equal to the volume of the part of his body he had submerged in his bathtub. With delight he ran around Syracuse naked screaming Eureka!
  • The antikythera mechanism, a mechanical calculator that was used to identify the positions of the planets, moons and stars.

Secrets of Archimedes:


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