Have you ever heard about Archemides? You know, the Greek mathematician? Today I’m going to be talking about who Archemides was, where he lived, what his education was, and three of his inventions: the principle of buoyancy, the Archemides screw, and the law of the lever. Also, which one of these inventions that has the biggest impact on me. (A lot more information and details about Archimedes survive that any other ancient scientist, but they are mostly anecdotal, giving the impression that his brilliance was based off of popular belief, or imagination.)
Archemides was born in two eighty-eight BC. He lived in Syracuse, a part of Greece, and spent some time in Egypt. He got a good education as a young boy, and as a teen, traveled to Egypt. There he was taught by other students of Euclid, a Greek mathematician. Archemides also became a Greek mathematician, that was also a physicist, astronomer, engineer, inventor, and weapons designer. He was known as the world’s greatest scientist of the classical era.
Archemides designed the principle of buoyancy. He was asked if he could figure out if the king’s crown was made of real gold, without ruining the crown. One theory states that the idea came to him when he got into the bathtub one day. When he got in, he noticed that some water spilled over the edge of the tub. He soon realized that gold must be the same way, and it would displace the same amount of water, no matter the form. He tested this, using the crown and a lump of solid gold. The crown displaced a lot more water than the lump did, and he knew that the crown wasn’t made of real gold, and had been alloyed with some other metal.
Archimedes also invented what is known as the Archimedes screw. Living in his era, farmers were having struggles irrigating their crops, since it was such a big industry for them. Archemides devised a solution, and made the Archemides screw, which basically was a big screw that was either rotated by manual labor, or by windmills. As it was being rotated, water would be picked up and carried through until it reaches irrigation ditches in the fields. I feel like this impacts us today because if Archimedes never invented this, we would’ve had to wait for someone else, far into the future, to figure out how to water crops. Then we might have had the crops die, and food wouldn’t grow, because we couldn’t figure out how to irrigate the fields. We still use this invention today, but instead to move lighter materials, like grain, in and out of farming silos.
The last thing I am going to talk about is the law of the lever. Archimedes once said “Give me a place to stand on, and I will move the earth.” To that, he was challenged. He was to launch Syracuse’s largest ship, which they couldn’t move with regular manpower. The invention works somewhat like a see-saw, to push the ship into the water. Archimedes made use of a huge lever mechanism with a series of pulleys to launch the massive ship. Archimedes wasn’t actually the first person in history to think of a lever system, but he was the first to improve the design, and explain the ratios and how it works.
Today I have talked about Archimedes, the Greek mathematician, where he lived, who he was, and what his education was. I have also talked about three of his inventions: the principle of buoyancy, the Archemides screw, and the law of the lever. I have also mentioned about why I think one of these has the biggest impact on me today. I hope you know a little more about Archimedes now.