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Archimedes was a Greek mathematician, inventor, and scientist who completed groundbreaking work in hydro-statics and geometry. He is also the inventor of the screw pump, known as the Archimedes screw.


Archimedes of Syracuse was a Greek mathematician, inventor and scientist. He was born in Syracuse, Sicily in 287 BC. He moved to Alexandria to study mathematics, but returned to Syracuse where he spend the rest of his life.

Archimedes produced a large amount of work in math, especially in geometry. Most famously, he wrote two volumes on the geometry of the sphere and the cylinder; he proved that the volume of a sphere was two thirds that of a cylinder. At his request there was a sculpture of a cylinder and a sphere on his tomb, as this was his favorite mathematical proof.

The king allegedly asked to investigate whether one of his crowns was pure gold or not. There were suspicions that the goldsmith had mixed the gold with other metals in an attempt to save money. Archimedes struggled to devise a way to measure the volume of the crown, which he needed to calculate the density. While taking a bath, he notice that the water rose when he got in. This made him realized that the increase in the volume of the water in the bath is equal to the volume of the object submerged. He could use this idea to measure the volume of the crown to calculate the crown’s density and compare this to the known density of gold. As well as this work he also produced other ideas in the field of hydrostatics. The Archimedes principle is important as it can describe buoyancy. The principle states that the upward force of buoyancy is equal to the weight of the liquid that is displaced by the object. This principle explains how ships and boats float on water.

He also produced a large amount of work in the field of mechanics. The earliest mathematical descriptions of a lever are from Archimedes. He famously stated “Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I shall move the world.” He is famous for the invention of the Archimedes screw, a simple machine that can be used to move water efficiently. In modern times, it has also been used as a method of generating electricity when connected to a generator. Archimedes also invented weapons, including a device which used mirrors to focus the Sun’s rays at enemy ships, setting fire to them. This idea has been tested in modern times, but has shown only to work in perfect weather conditions where there are no clouds in the sky.

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Archimedes’ Significant Accomplishments

  • Written work on the geometry of spheres and cylinders
  • Description of hydro-static pressure
  • Invention of the hydraulic screw (AKA Archimedes Screw)

Archimedes Quotes

“The shortest distance between two points is a straight line.”

“Eureka! - I have found it!”

“Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I shall move the world.”

Learn more about people who have influenced history in our Picture Encyclopedia!
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