-0287 – Archimedes – bio

Archimedes was a Greek engineer, inventor, mathematician and scientist born in Syracuse, Sicily around -287. He explained how the lever works, invented the “Archimedes screw” pump, and designed many military machines for attack and siege. He discovered how buoyancy in water works by displacement and this is now known as Archimedes Principle. He invented a crude form of an odometer, worked with block and tackle pulley systems to move large objects and made improvements to catapults.

Archimedes made great strides in mathematics. He studied two and three dimensional geometry, including the sphere and spiral and discovered formulas for calculating the volume of a sphere and a cylinder. The curve known as the Archimedes spiral seems to have been discovered by his friend, Conon, but Archimedes added more to the work. Archimedes used a method of “exhaustion”, an early form of integration developed by Eudoxus, to calculate geometric areas and volumes and laid some of the foundation for both calculus and series summation.

PRECURSOR:
-1900 – pi
-0428 – Archytas
-0408 – Eudoxus

CONCURRENT:
-0310 – Aristarchus
-0325 – Euclid
-0289 – Conon
-0276 – Eratosthenes

SUBSEQUENT:
1136 – al-Jazari
1500 – Fontana/Tartaglia
1588 – Mersenne
1596 – Descartes
1601 – Fermat
1838 – Mach
1862 – Hilbert

SEE ALSO:
Archimedes and the 2000-year-old computer

One of Archimedes’s creations was saved, though. The general took back to Rome a mechanical bronze sphere that showed the motions of the sun, moon and planets as seen from Earth.

The sphere stayed in Marcellus’s family for generations, until the Roman author Cicero saw it in the first century BC. “The invention of Archimedes deserves special admiration because he had thought out a way to represent accurately by a single device for turning the globe those various and divergent movements with their different rates of speed,” he wrote. “The moon was always as many revolutions behind the sun on the bronze contrivance as would agree with the number of days it was behind it in the sky.”

BOOK:
Decoding the Heavens: A 2,000-Year-Old Computer–and the Century-Long Search to Discover Its Secrets – [amazon.com]

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