Archimedes
Archimedes
(287212 BC), preeminent
mathematician and inventor, who
wrote important works on plane
and solid geometry, arithmetic,
and mechanics.
Archimedes
was born in Syracuse, Sicily, and
educated in Alexandria, Egypt. In
pure mathematics he anticipated
many of the discoveries of modern
science, such as the integral
calculus, through his studies of
the areas and volumes of curved
solid figures and the areas of
plane figures. He also proved
that the volume of a sphere is
twothirds the volume of a
cylinder that circumscribes the
sphere.



In
mechanics, Archimedes defined the
principle of the lever and is
credited with inventing the
compound pulley. During his stay
in Egypt he invented the
hydraulic screw for raising water
from a lower to a higher level.
He is best known for discovering
the law of hydrostatics, often
called Archimedes' principle,
which states that a body immersed
in fluid loses weight equal to
the weight of the amount of fluid
it displaces. This discovery is
said to have been made as
Archimedes stepped into his bath
and perceived the displaced water
overflowing.

Archimedes
spent the major part of his life
in Sicily, in and around
Syracuse. He did not hold any
public office but devoted his
entire lifetime to research and
experiment. During the Roman
conquest of Sicily, however, he
placed his gifts at the disposal
of the state, and several of his
mechanical devices were employed
in the defence of Syracuse. Among
the war machines attributed to
him are the catapult andperhaps
legendarya mirror system for
focusing the Sun's rays on the
invaders' boats and igniting
them.
After
the capture of Syracuse during
the Second Punic War, Archimedes
was killed by a Roman soldier who
found him drawing a mathematical
diagram in the sand. It is said
that Archimedes was so absorbed
in calculation that he offended
the intruder merely by remarking,
"Do not disturb my diagrams."
Several of his works on
mathematics and mechanics
survive, including Floating
Bodies, The Sand Reckoner,
Measurement of the Circle,
Spirals, and Sphere and Cylinder.
They all exhibit the rigour and
imaginativeness of his
mathematical thinking.


