Archimedes was a well-known mathematician who contributed to the growth of mathematics. Due to his outstanding contributions to the field of mathematics, Archimedes was considered the father of mathematics. Although so many years have passed since his time, his works are still considered important in our modern time. Because he left an outstanding legacy that will last for the generations to come.
Mathematics is important because we use numbers and calculations in the everyday life. Without the numbers, we would not have an orderly system and we would not be able to keep fairness in a trade or any other transactions. As logical human beings, we can measure the fairness based on numbers. Also, we use numbers to create, build, and establish certain things.
Considering the valuable contributions of Archimedes, I decided to share some interesting facts about him.
1. He was the inventor who designed compound pulleys, screw pumps, and several defense weapons.
He assisted the king of Syracuse, Hiero II, to defend against enemy attacks. One of his main defensive tools was an “iron hand”, or well-known as Claw of Archimedes. That innovative defense cranes were used to destroy the ships before they could deploy their army on land.
2. Most of his written mathematical works were restored from Archimedes Palimpsest.
Archimedes Palimpsest contains 7 treatises written by Archimedes. Unfortunately, some of those treatises were erased from the parchment to write a prayer book. Thanks to modern technologies, experts could restore the erased scripts from under layers of the book.
3. Archimedes’s life is mysterious because there is no whole lot of information about his personal life.
Some sources mention that his father’s name was Phidias, who was an astronomer. However, no other information survived. Nobody knows whether he had a wife and children.
4. Heracleides was Archimedes’s friend and he wrote his biography.
Unfortunately, Archimedes’s biography written by Herachleides did not survive to our days.
5. He was killed for not obeying a Roman soldier.
According to a story, when his native land, Syracuse, was captured by the Roman army, one of the Roman soldiers came to Archimedes and ordered him to come and meet the army general. Archimedes, who was busy at the moment with mathematical works, did not want to leave what he was doing. The humiliated soldier killed him on the spot, striking with a sword.
6. Supposedly, Archimedes’s last words were “Do not disturb my circles”
If his last words are true, then his death story may be true too. His last words were probably his last conversation with the soldier who was about to strike him with a sword for not obeying his orders.
8. The location of the Archimedes’ tomb is unknown.
There are various claims about the location of his tomb, but none of them are backed by proof. For instance, a tomb found in 1960 in the courtyard of Hotel Panorama in Syracuse is claimed to be his tomb. However, there is no firm evidence.
9. Archimedes is the mathematician who cried “Eureka” while running down a street naked.
If you knew any facts about Archimedes, then you may have known this anecdote about him. But the story may have been exaggerated to make it more anecdotal.
Anyways, the story goes like this: A king of Syracuse asked Archimedes to determine if his crown was made of pure gold, or whether it was altered by a dishonest goldsmith. The king asked him to solve the problem without damaging the crown. That meant no melting and no cutting. Archimedes contemplated a solution when he was about to take a bath. When he got into a bathtub, the water level in the tub rose. That moment, Archimedes knew that he could submerge the crown into the tub water in the same way and determine the purity of the crown by observing the fluctuating water levels in a bathtub. After that, he was too happy to even wear his clothes. He just ran towards the castle naked, crying “Eureka”, which means in Greek “I found it”
10. Archimedes designed a weapon that was capable of burning down enemy ships from a long distance.
The weapon was specially designed to protect the land dear to his heart, Syracuse, from Roman invaders, who are coming with their powerful ships.
Archimedes supposedly could burn down ships from a long distance by redirecting the heat from the sun towards enemy ships, using prepositioned mirrors on the shore. However, modern-day scholars debate on the credibility of the story.
11. Archimedes believed that 8 x 1063 number of sand grains can fill the universe.
In his well-known mathematical work, The Sand Reckoner, Archimedes noted that the number 8 x 1063 is huge enough to count even sand grains.
12. Galileo Galilei admired Archimedes and called him a “superhuman”.
Galileo Galilei studied Archimedes’ works, especially the treaties called Floating Bodies and Plane Equilibria, from an early age. A few years before his death, Galileo described Archimedes as his master.