You are on page 1of 2

I magine a man. This man is a mathematician.

A mathematician
with so much passion for his work that when a common soldier
threatened to murder him after conquering his city, he asked
if he could quickly complete the problem he had been diligently
working on. The soldier angrily murdered him for his nonchalant
knowledge, Archimedes completed preliminary studies at a young
age with Hasan deducing that, in a ‘majority rules’ statement,
‘Many historians agree that Archimedes belonged to the nobility
of Syracuse’ (Hasan, 2006). While this is a reasonably marginalised view,
some secondary writers believed he had a strong relationship with
manually turned for the contraption to
be functional (Fagan, 2004). Sources vary on
Archimedes’ intended use, with
different historians deciding that it was
either to irrigate crops, pump water
retort (Plutarch, Translated 1962). While the details of this ancient story are the ‘soon-to-be’ King Hiero II, Beckmann even labelling them as out of mines, moderate the effects of
speculated by all sources, Heather Hasan, an experienced, ‘cousins’. flash flooding from the Nile or remove
historical author, depicts Archimedes of Syracuse, ‘…as one of He furthered his studies at the famous Library and water from sinking ships (Fagan, 2004)
the…greatest mathematicians who ever lived’ (Hasan, 2006). Museum of Alexandria in Egypt which acted as a university at the (Beckmann, 1971) (Toomer, 2018). While all are

In addition to his mathematical studies, it cannot be time (Hasan, 2006). Archimedes encountered countless colleagues plausible theories, secondary
doubted that Archimedes’ work in science and engineering are (known as the Alexandrian Scholars), with whom he would historians will only speculate on
among some of the most positively influential advancements the exchange various mathematical findings including Conon, Archimedes’ purpose for the invention
world has seen (Toomer, 2018). Not only did his discoveries in Archimedes most intrusted friend, Dositheus, one of Conan’s as no primary sources revealed the
mathematics and science undoubtedly affect contemporary pupils, and Eratosthenes, the eventual director of the world- man’s true intentions for the device.
culture, but the application of these theories in his various renowned library (Hasan, 2006). Nevertheless, while the Archimedes’
inventions were vital to the evolution of humankind (Hasan, 2006). This Known by many ancient historians as the ‘Father of Screw is considered unfit for industrial
is proven by Puiu, a well-informed author with a Bachelor of Mathematics’, Archimedes’ contribution to this field is obvious to purposes nowadays, it is still used in
Mechanical Engineering, who states that Archimedes current scholars. One such example is his polygonal method, used various locations around the world (Puiu,
was, ‘A true polymath…’ and that, ‘…many of his to determine the most eminent numerical value in history, pi (π), 2018). For example, the original designs

inventions and discoveries from over 2,000 years which was displayed in his treatise, Measurement of a Circle are used by Arab countries, some
ago are still in use today’ (Puiu, 2018). (Archimedes, Translated 1897). Relating the ratio of the circumference of a developing nations and fellahin
Forthcoming mathematicians, Famous statue of C (modern Egyptian peasants) for minor
circle to the diameter (or π = ), pi had been in continual A 3.66 metre Archimedes’ Screw in Mexico City, USA, used to control used to control
Archimedes, situated D
scientists and inventors also rainwater runoff. irrigation (Fagan, 2004). Additionally Mexico
at his birthplace development for over 1900 years before Archimedes, namely
improved upon his (Syracuse, Sicily). through the Babylonian and Egyptian civilisations (Beckmann, 1971).
www.zmescience.com City in the USA have a 12ft (3.66 m)
findings to have a it.wikipedia.org version powered by a diesel engine to
However, Archimedes contradicted these
significant impact on washing areas. He noticed the water level rise and discovered the control rainstorm runoff, pumping up to 473 kilolitres per minute
attempts, utilising a method to find pi which entailed
shaping history (Pickover, laws of buoyancy, running naked down the street exclaiming, (Puiu, 2018). Modern farmers also reinvented it to manoeuvre
circumscribing polygons inside a circle to find the
2008). “Eureka!” (English translation: ‘I have found it’) (Puiu, 2018). Using materials such as grain, sand and ashes which proves Archimedes’
amount of sides of the shape in relation to the
Due to these findings, Archimedes assisted King Hiero II in his attempt to influence on all aspects of contemporary life as even
diameter (Beckmann, 1971). The ancient mathematician
the historical figure’s verify the gold in a crown made by an untrustworthy blacksmith. agriculturalists have prospered from the ancient scholar’s work
would gradually increase the amount of sides until the
prodigious influence By placing the ornament in a (Puiu, 2018). In addition, Archimedes’ designs have also been
polygon was almost completely
on contemporary society, body of water, his ruse was repurposed as a screw propeller for steamships, with the first
touching the circle and, thus,
multiple primary sources have
providing modern geometers
“Archimedes will be remembered when discovered when the crown’s vessel using it, named the SS Archimedes, being built in 1829 by
proved to contain a considerable with the most accurate value of Aeschylus is forgotten, because mass could be calculated by the British (Hasan, 2006). This undoubtedly highlights the extent of
bias for Archimedes. This is obvious measuring the rise in the water Archimedes influence on current culture.
the ratio (Beckmann, 1971). Due to language dies, and mathematical ideas
through the exaggeration of the stories in level in comparison to an While in Alexandria, Archimedes also learnt from the
completely remodelling the do not. “Immortality may be a silly word
which Archimedes discovered his findings. authentic gold piece of the same Ancient Egyptian’s more practical use of science and mathematics
system for finding pi, Archimedes but probably a mathematician has the
Additionally, although the majority of the volume (Hasan, 2006). (Hasan, 2006). He learnt from the Egyptians that all intellectual
is often confused by historians as best chance of whatever it may mean.”
secondary writers are experts in their Moreover, laws of discoveries must have a practical use to be considered of any
being the creator of the value
various fields, they were also susceptible to a
because he established a more
– G.H Hardy buoyancy have been continually value which opposed his pre-existing, Greek beliefs that
bias for the ancient character and his used since Archimedes made the comprehending all knowledge was worthwhile (Hasan, 2006). This
desired amount of accuracy
colleagues, most likely due to their discovery. Such manifestations of was also speculated to have been the initial signs of Archimedes
(Beckmann, 1971).
overwhelming passion for these subjects. In these findings include creating ships with more efficient weight utilising geometrical findings in his various inventions, noted by
Noticeably, famous mathematicians like
constructing their books, websites and articles, distribution, a hydrometer which is used to measure density of Puiu as the first to do it (Beckmann, 1971) (Puiu, 2018). Consequently, this
Leonard Euler, Leonardo of Pisa (Fibonacci) and Sir
these authors were also given the gift of liquids and even inventions like air-balloons, using the law that if combination of engineering and mathematics has been vital for
Isaac Newton made minor advancements with pi but
hindsight, which presents that, with a a solid was lighter than the ‘body of water’, then the object would forthcoming inventors. In particular, Heron and Vitruvius were
Archimedes’ simplified value (22/7) is the most
contemporary perspective, they could easily float (Groleau, 2003). This unquestionably proves that Archimedes’ collectively renowned for the inventions of the aeolipile (a
commonly used in the 21st century (Beckmann, 1971) (Pickover,
discuss the influence of Archimedes on the scientific studies have had a positive influence on inventors of machine moved with steam), the dioptra (a celestial measuring
2008). Perhaps Archimedes’ most imperative
modern world. According to Groleau, ‘Most of future generations. device) and the syringe (initially used to transfer water between
application of pi is through discovering the sphere
what we know about Archimedes today comes In a considerable bias for
and cylinder volume formulas which are frequently
from his writings (Archimedes Palimpsest)…’, Archimedes, Puiu describes
utilised today (Archimedes, Translated 1897). Displayed in his
while some basic chronological details of his life are Archimedes as the, ‘…embodiment of
treatise On the Sphere and Cylinder (Book 1), the
also acknowledged by primary authors which are a man ahead of his time,’ due to the
various uses for these formulas today are
translated by modern historians (Groleau, 2003). innovative and revolutionary nature
endless, ranging from measuring the
Archimedes was born in 287 B.C.E before of his inventions (Puiu, 2018). One such
contents of different items like water tanks
being infamously murdered in 212 B.C.E in the example is the Archimedes’ Screw
to mass-producing spherical sports
aftermath of the ‘Siege of Syracuse’ during the which he invented while in
equipment (Toomer, 2018). Clearly, Archimedes
second Punic War (known by Romans as the Alexandria, used to raise water from
influence on the modern world is profound.
Hannibalic War) (Toomer, 2018). His passion to become a lower ground (Fagan, 2004). The device
In his celebrated history, the most romanticised and
mathematician and scientist initially grew through his father, encompasses a helix, a screw-shaped
documented discovery by primary historians would be Archimedes’ ‘burning mirror’ (left) and ‘iron claw’ (right) are two of his more suspicious war inventions due
Phidias (or Pheidias), who was a successful astronomer (Hasan, 2006). object, encased in a cylindrical pipe,
Archimedes’ laws of buoyancy (Puiu, 2018). The ancient scientist to no distinct evidence of their existence.
As the Greeks were renowned for their desire to acquire the original invention required to be
supposedly got undressed and slipped into a bath in the public en.wikepedia.org

3 National Geographic - June 2018 Influencing the ‘Circle’ of Life 4


reservoirs) (Shuttleworth, 2011). These creations all manipulated that there would be a centre of gravity at the midpoint of the two contraption, even asking the king to fill the Syracusia with notation, approximating square roots and indefinite calculus, as
geometrical or physics findings in their designs (Shuttleworth, 2011). As a ‘weights’ (Archimedes, Translated 1897). He also continues that, ‘Unequal passengers and cargo to highlight the power of his invention (Hasan, well as advances in astronomy, like calculating Earth’s distances
result, this proves that not only did Archimedes’ inventions and weight will balance at unequal distance, the greater the weight 2006). Subsequently, the pulley’s modern influence has been from heavenly bodies (Beckmann, 1971) (O’Connor, Robertson, 1999). Some of his
theoretical discoveries directly affect contemporary people, but being at the lesser distance’ (Archimedes, Translated 1897). This section of the extraordinary, used every day for contraptions like elevators, other well-known inventions include the odometer, seen in every
‘post-Archimedes’ scholars also evolved his work to eventually Archimedes’ Palimpsest was the earliest known mention of the construction cranes, theatre curtains and even used in the day-to- contemporary motor vehicle and even a game called Stomachion,
influence modern times as well. properties of the lever, leading to a majority of historians day life of a mechanic. which is very similar to the well-known arcade game, Tetris (Puiu, 2018)
One example of Archimedes combining mathematics believing that Archimedes actually invented this multipurpose Despite the extensive list of (Hasan, 2006). Additionally, he also created
and engineering was during preparation for the war against contraption (Heath, 1897). Typically used to lift or manoeuvre heavy Archimedes’ achievements, the arrogance of mathematical terms like rhombus, sector,
Marcus Claudius Marcellus in the second Punic War (Plutarch, Translated objects with minimal effort, Archimedes’ documentation of this his personality is corroborated by a majority of “If I have seen further, it prism, pyramid, parabola and cylinder, which
1962). In terms of Archimedes’ war inventions, secondary authors invention has allowed it to become an extremely versatile sources in spite of their bias for him. This is is by standing upon the are regularly used in modern mathematicians’
have proven to be very critical and suspicious of Plutarch and Livy contraption in modern times (Heath, 1897). Used in a variety of highlighted in his own treatise when he writes
shoulder of giants” – Sir daily language (Heath, 1897).
and Pappus’ description of the inventor’s creations. Some prime everyday items like kitchen utensils, wheelbarrows, scissors, that Eudoxus’ work in the same field, ‘…had not According to Toomer, without
examples include the ‘burning mirror’, a collection of mirrors that hammers, brakes on a bicycle, car jacks, seesaws and staplers been observed by anyone,’ and that anyone of Isaac Newton Archimedes, ‘…the development of
supposedly set warships on fire by reflecting light from the sun, which are taken for granted, it reinforces the positive influence ‘requisite ability’ should, ‘examine these mathematics…is inconceivable,’ and, thus,
and the ‘iron claw’, designed to grapple enemy that Archimedes has had more than 23 discoveries of mine’ (Archimedes, Translated 1897). justifies his title as the ‘Father of
war ships, lift them into the air and capsize centuries into the future (Puiu, 2018). Additionally, Toomer neutrally states that Archimedes also left, Mathematics’ (Toomer, 2018). In addition, his contribution to science
them (Puiu, 2018). One invention, an early form of
It can not be doubted that Archimedes was quoted to ‘instructions for his tomb to be marked with a sphere inscribed in and engineering is undeniable, reflected by a famous quote from
a catapult, is a verified, geometrical success, Archimedes is one of the have once exclaimed, “Give me a place to a cylinder,’ which was discovered by Marcus Tullis Cicero Sir Isaac Newton, ‘If I have seen further, it is by standing upon the
and has a decorated history in warfare (Hasan, most influential ancient stand, and I can move the Earth.” Although (between 104 and 63 B.C.E) (Toomer, 2018) According to Hasan, the shoulder of giants’
2006). Despite not having much of an influence multiple different translations of this ancient figure also did not believe his inventions were of any value (Pickover, 2008). The extent of Archimedes of Syracuse’s modern impact

on modern warfare due to the sudden uprising


figures to have existed. famous line exist, not only is Archimedes in comparison to his theoretical findings (Hasan, 2006). As a result, he is vast and indubitable, despite the fact that a large amount of his
of the technological age, the catapult was referring to the effectiveness of his lever, burned all of his architectural designs (Hasan, 2006). work has been lost over time. Potentially, this may mean that the
noticeably prominent during the Middle Ages (Hasan, 2006). The but he is also boasting the quality of his compound pulley (Puiu, 2018). Nonetheless, it can not be doubted that Archimedes full extent of Archimedes’ remarkable mind is yet to be uncovered
weapon had a substantial influence on the outcomes of the wars The simple yet effective invention was initially built upon a is one of the most influential ancient figures to have existed. In (Toomer, 2018).

at that time and, consequently, influenced the history that request from King Hiero II to create a piece of machinery that addition to some of his major discoveries and inventions, he also
modern scholars appreciate today. could dock what was considered by historians as the largest ship made other minor theoretical
In addition, his treatise, On the Equilibrium of Planes of ancient times, the Syracusia (Hasan, 2006). To the leader’s discoveries. These include
or the Centres of Gravity of Planes found that, in Archimedes’ amazement, Archimedes hauled the ship designed by the inventor mathematical findings for early
words, ‘Equal weights at equal distances are in equilibrium,’ and using his laws of buoyancy, to shore with his powerful forms of trigonometry, index

Like the Syracusia, this ship (above) uses Archimedes Laws of


Buoyancy and, identical the SS Archimedes, repurposes the helix
from the Archimedes’ Screw as a propeller.
5 www.shutterstock.com