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Archimedes

Archimedes Archimedes was born in 287 BC in Syracuse, a Greek seaport colony in Sicily. Archimedes father was Phidias. He was an astronomer; this is all we know about his father and we learn this from Archimedes work, The Sandreckoner. Archimedes was educated in Alexandria, Egypt. Archimedes friend, Heracleides, wrote a biography about him, but this work was lost. Some authors report that he visited Egypt and there invented a tool known as Archimedes’ screw.

This is a pump, still used today in parts of the world. It is likely that, when he was a young man, Archimedes studied with the followers of Euclid. Many of his ideas seem to correspond with the mathematics developed there. This speculation is much more certain because he sent his results to Alexandria with personal messages. He considered Conon of Samos, one of the greatest achieving mathematicians at Alexandria, both for his abilities as a mathematician and he also respected him as a close friend. Archimedes spent most of his life in Sicily, near Syracuse except for his journeys to Alexandria.

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He never held any public office but he was faithful to his lifetime of research and experiment. At times, Archimedes became so immersed in his work that he would forget to eat. He used every surface available to do his work on, including oil on his skin to ashes from a fire. Many of Archimedes discoveries were put to the test during the Roman conquest of Sicily. His mechanical tools and machines were used, including the legendary catapult which he is credited for making.

This was all for the protection of Syracuse. Despite the use of Archimedes inventions, Syracuse was captured during the Second Punic war. A Roman soldier who found him drawing a mathematical diagram in the sand killed Archimedes. It is said that Archimedes was so preoccupied in his calculation that he simply said to the intruder, “Do not disturb my diagrams.” Aside from the fame Archimedes earned from his work on the Archimedes screw, he was also famous for his relationship with the king, Hiero. Hiero often had complicated problems to solve, and Archimedes solved them causing surprise among the town. The king often challenged Archimedes.

One of Archimedes quotes is “Give me a place to stand and I will move the Earth.” The king took him up on this challenge and invited him to move a ship that even all the men in Syracuse. With his knowledge of levers and pulleys, Archimedes was able to create a machine that could move the ship. Archimedes was far beyond his time. With his discoveries in mathematics, he was able to predict and imitate much of modern science.

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