Archimedes was a Greek born in Syracuse in 287 B.C. It was a great scientist with brilliant contributions to different fields of physics, astronomy, and maths. He discovered the concept of density and the principle of buoyancy, which tell us why some objects float and why other objects sink. He discovered the laws of the lever and pulleys.
He was also a great inventor. He invented the so-called Archimedean screw, some machines to be used in astronomy observations and calculations, and many war machines that allowed to defend his city against the Romans.
But above all, Archimedes was a giant mathematician. He estimated the value of the number π=3.14... starting with the perimeters of inscribed and circumscribed regular polygons. He also made important discoveries about volumes and surfaces of the sphere and the cylinder.
He was a clear example of absent-minded mathematician. One time, Archimedes was working on a problem he had drawn in the sand of the floor. His city, Syracuse, was in war against Romans and it had been taken just when we was thinking about the problem. Then a Roman soldier appeared and shouted him:
- I order you to come with me to see the General.
But Archimedes answered impatiently:
- Can't you see I am working? I must finish my problem firstly. And stand off my diagram, you are spoiling it.
The soldier got angry, drew his sword and killed Archimedes.
- Jeanne Bendick, Archimedes and the door of science. Bethelhem books (1995).
- William Dunham, Journey through genius: the great theorems of mathematics, Penguin books (1991).