Archimedes (c. 284-211 BC)

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Archimedes was a renowned mathematician and inventor of the ancient world. He was born between 290 and 280 B.C. in the Greek colony of Syracuse, Sicily, and with the exception of several years in Egypt (possibly in Alexandria), spent his life there. He died in Syracuse around 211 during the Romans' sack of the city. The war machines he designed helped delay the city's fall for more than a year. His true importance, however, was perceived only after his works were rediscovered in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. His ideas influenced the work of Galileo (1564-1642) and Kepler (1571-1630) among others.

Archimedes is most famous for discovering the relationship between the surface and volume of a sphere and its circumscribing cylinder. He is also known for the Archimedes principle (the formulation of hydrostatic principles) and the Archimedes screw (a device designed to pump water from a ship's hull). Like Euclid, his work affirms the scientific and philosophical endeavor to find order in the natural world.


Works by the Author

Archimedes. Selected Works. Translated by Thomas L. Heath. The Classics of the St. Johns Program. 1947.

Archimedes. Geometrical Solutions Derived from Mechanisms. Translated by David Eugene Smith. LaSalle: Open Court Publishing, 1942.

Archimedes. The Works of Archimedes. Translated by Thomas L. Heath. New York: Dover Publications.


The biographical material about the author originally appeared on The Goodrich Room: Interactive Tour website.

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