Born: 287 BC, Syracuse, Italy Died: 212 BC, Syracuse, Italy Studied: Math, physics, engineering, astronomy
Briography: Who was Archimedes?
Indeed, in ancient science and math, Archimedes was an true rock star! In fact, among the most famous scientists in history, Archimedes has earned strong nicknames, like “The Master,” or “The Great One.” Son of Phidias, an astronomer, Archimedes was obsessed with solving problems. Actually, legend has it that the young boy was so distracted by problems that he often forgot to eat! Archimedes was born, and died, in Syracuse, a major Greek city-state in Sicily, Italy. However, like many renown scientists of ancient times, Archimedes likely spent some time in Egypt. More specifically, Alexandria.
Later, Archimedes would play a crucial role in Syracuse’s defense against Roman attack. In fact, Syracuse was invaded in 213 BC, it was Archimedes’ brilliant inventions that drastically extended the time it took for the Romans to overtake the city. However, upon being defeated by the Romans in the Fall of 212 BC, Syracuse was captured, and Archimedes was killed.
Fortunately, more details of Archimedes’ life have survived than virtually any other ancient scientist. Above all, we anecdotally learn of Archimedes’ life through the marvelous and lasting impacts left by his brilliance in engineering and invention. Although, even long after his death, dozens of game-changing scientific legacies would later be credited to Archimedes.
Discoveries: What is Archimedes known for?
Invented mechanics and hydrostatics
Archimedes is credited with establishing the scientific disciplines of both mechanics, and hydrostatics. Major concepts from such sciences would later help fuel some of Archimedes’ greatest inventions.
Levers and pulleys
Through applied mathematics, Archimedes founded the laws of levers and pulleys. These simple, but brilliant tools allowed humans to successfully move heavy objects by way of tiny forces!
Center of gravity
Indeed, it was Archimedes who first discovered the center of gravity. Even today, this fascinating point between two objects is one of modern physics’ most fundamental concepts.
Sphere surface area and volume
Archimedes mathematically established, and proved the formulas for solving a sphere’s volume and surface area. Modern engineers, universities, physicists and thousands of other careers still use Archimedes’ formulas to solve these problems.
It was Archimedes who first showed that exponents can help us interpret much larger numbers. Also, he invented the way in which exponents are multiplied together.
This elegantly simple invention allows us to pull water from the ground. In fact, the Archimedes Screw has been used by civilizations around the world, across centuries, including today!
There are countless other life-changing scientific and mathematical imprints left behind by Archimedes. However, the fact that we are unable to even list them all shows us just how revolutionary and incredible Archimedes’ life was!
Fun facts about Archimedes
- Archimedes was known for drawing math problems on his stomach, using olive oil.
Often ranked in the top three greatest mathematicians of all time (usually among Carl Friedrich Gauss, Euclid, and others)
- Later on, Archimedes’ works would heavily influence Galileo Galilei, Isaac Newton and even Leonardo da Vinci!
- It is believed that when Roman soldiers finally invaded Syracuse, Archimedes was so involved in a problem, he was unaware of the attack!
- Rumor has it, upon finding out how to prove that the king of Syracuse’s (Hiero) crown contained silver, Archimedes ran naked through the streets of Syracuse, meaning, “I’ve found it!”