Who was Archimedes?



Archimedes was one of the best mathematicians of his times. He was born in Syracuse in 287 BC. His father was an astronomer. Archimedes’s personality has been described as absent minded, self absorbed and a little eccentric.

But he was a genius. Even today he can be considered one of the greatest inventors in science and mathematics. In his youth Archimedes went to Egypt and studied at the Library of Alexandria.

The king of Syracuse had faith in Archimedes and sought his help during times of difficulties. The story of the golden crown is just one such example. See story Eureka! Eureka! After he solved the king’s problem, Archimedes extended the idea further and defined “The principle of buoyancy”. (If the weight of water displaced is greater than the weight of the object, then it will float. If the weight of the water displaced is less then the object will sink.)
Archimedes’ first love was mathematics. He often spent days working on a problem, forgetting to even eat or bathe. He worked on his problems by writing and drawing figures in sand. He found several theorems and formulas in math. He figured how to determine the area of a circle, the quadrature of a parabola, the surface area and volume of a sphere.
Archimedes is also recognized for his engineering abilities. He devised some simple machines and used them to build compound machines. When he was in Egypt he designed what is known as the “Archimedes’ screw”. It could be used to draw mass quantities of water from lakes or rivers

He built a system of levers and pulleys that could be used to launch huge and heavy (fully loaded) ships in water. It is said that King Hiero was so impressed with Archimedes’s machines that he issued a proclamation saying that “Archimedes is to be believed in everything he says

When Syracuse was attacked by Romans, the king once again went to Archimedes for help. Archimedes designed machines and contraptions that sent Roman soldiers running in panic. He designed cranes that would grapple the Roman ships and then destroy them by raising them in the air and smashing them in the water. He built catapults that would hurl huge stones at the enemy








However after a long war the Romans won. They entered Syracuse. Marcellus their leader had instructed his soldiers not to harm Archimedes. At that time Archimedes was working on a math problem. He was completely unaware of the fall of Syracuse to the Romans. A soldier found him and ordered him to follow Marcellus. Archimedes saw that the soldier was ruining his figures drawn in the sand and told him to get away. The soldier got angry and killed him. He did not know who the man was. Marcellus was very saddened at the news. He gave Archimedes an honorable burial and built a memorial for him.