ArchimedesArchimedes 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 knowabout 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 hevisited Egypt and there invented a tool known as Archimedes’ screw.
This is apump, still used today in parts of the world. It is likely that, when he was ayoung man, Archimedes studied with the followers of Euclid. Many of his ideasseem to correspond with the mathematics developed there. This speculation ismuch more certain because he sent his results to Alexandria with personalmessages. He considered Conon of Samos, one of the greatest achievingmathematicians at Alexandria, both for his abilities as a mathematician and healso respected him as a close friend. Archimedes spent most of his life inSicily, near Syracuse except for his journeys to Alexandria.
He never held anypublic office but he was faithful to his lifetime of research and experiment. Attimes, Archimedes became so immersed in his work that he would forget to eat. Heused every surface available to do his work on, including oil on his skin toashes from a fire. Many of Archimedes’ discoveries were put to the test duringthe Roman conquest of Sicily.
His mechanical tools and machines were used,including the legendary catapult which he is credited for making. This was allfor the protection of Syracuse. Despite the use of Archimedes’ inventions,Syracuse was captured during the Second Punic war. A Roman soldier who found himdrawing a mathematical diagram in the sand killed Archimedes. It is said thatArchimedes was so preoccupied in his calculation that he simply said to theintruder, “Do not disturb my diagrams.
” Aside from the fame Archimedesearned from his work on the Archimedes’ screw, he was also famous for hisrelationship with the king, Hiero. Hiero often had complicated problems tosolve, and Archimedes solved them causing surprise among the town. The kingoften challenged Archimedes. One of Archimedes’ quotes is “Give me a placeto stand and I will move the Earth. ” The king took him up on this challengeand invited him to move a ship that even all the men in Syracuse. With hisknowledge of levers and pulleys, Archimedes was able to create a machine thatcould move the ship.
Archimedes was far beyond his time. With his discoveries inmathematics, he was able to predict and imitate much of modern science.