Sunday, November 7, 2021

Archimedes of Syracuse

Archimedes of Syracuse (287 - 212 BCE), the most famous and probably the best mathematician of antiquity, made so many discoveries in mathematics and physics. He was Greek engineer who made the first measurement of specific gravity.

He was born in Syracuse, the principal city-state of Sicily, the son of the astronomer Phidias. He spent considerable time in Alexandria, where he studied with Euclid’s successors.

He returned to Syracuse where he spent most of the rest of the life. He made many mathematical discoveries, including the most accurate calculation of pi made up to that time.

In engineering he was the founder of the science of hydrostatics. He is well known for the discovery of ‘Archimedes Law’ that a body wholly or partly immersed in a fluid loses weight equal to the weight of the fluid displaced. He thus made the first measurement of specific gravity.

Archimedes also proved the law of the lever and developed the theory of mechanical advantage boasting to his cousin Hieron, ‘Give me a place to stand on and with a lever I will move the whole world.’

To prove his point, he launched one of the biggest ships built up to that date. During his time in Egypt, he devised the ‘Archimedean Screw’. The Archimedes screw is still in use today for pumping liquids and granulated solids such as coal and grain. The Archimedes screw described in Roman times by Vitruvius may have been an improvement on a screw pump that was used to irrigate the Hanging Gardens of Babylon.

He also built an astronomical instrument to demonstrate the movements of the heavenly bodies, a form of orrery.

He was General of Ordnance to Heiron and when the Romans besieged Syracuse. Archimedes was killed by a Roman soldier despite orders that he should not be harmed.

During the siege of Syracuse in the Second Punic War, inventions by Archimedes such as a catapult equally serviceable at a variety of ranges, caused great fear to the Roman attackers.

He also experimented with burning glasses and mirrors or setting for to wooden ships.
Archimedes of Syracuse

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