Thursday, May 14, 2009

Father of Mathematics

Archimedes was the world's greatest mathematician but for centuries few people realised his talents. Archemedes was born around 287BC in Syracuse on the island of Sicily.

Althogh Sicily is now a part of Italy, it was at that time a part of Greece. The Greeks and their neighbours, the Romans of Italy, were fighting for dominance.

As Archimedes was a friend of King Hieron II, the ruler of Syracuse, he took part in the wars against the Romans.

The young Archimedes showed exceptional skills as a mathematician and engineer. Not only did he prove that the surface area of any sphere is four times that of its greatest circle, he also worked out the steps to calculate the volume of a sphere.

When King Hieron was presented with a crown, Archimedes was able to determine the gold content in it by weighing it in water. His other contributions included the Archimedes' claw, a weapon that could sink ships, and the Archimedes' screw, a machine that could pump up water without using electricity.

Archimedes was such a genius that when the Romans invaded Syracuse, their general gave orders that the mathematician should not be harmed.

However, Archimedes killed by a Roman soldier in one of the battles. He was buried in a tomb decorated with his favourite mathematical proofs.

Althogh Archimedes' formulae were popular, much of his work was forgotten until his books were translated. Arabic versions in the 8th century inspired scientists in the Middle East whereas Latin translations in the 16th century inspired European scientists.

Johannes Kepler, Galileo Galilei, Rene Descartes and Pierre de Fermat were among the influential scientists inspired by Archimedes.

Hence, it is no wonder that Archimedes is now called the father of mathematics.

A sphere has 2/3 the volume and surface area of its circumscribing cylinder.
A sphere and cylinder were placed on the tomb of Archimedes at his request.

Archimedes may have used his principle of buoyancy to determine whether
the golden crown was less dense than solid gold.

The Archimedes screw can raise water efficiently.

Archimedes may have used mirrors acting collectively as a
parabolic reflector to burn ships attacking Syracuse.

Archimedes used the method of exhaustion
to approximate the value of π.

As proven by Archimedes, the area of the parabolic segment in the upper figure
is equal to 4/3 that of the inscribed triangle in the lower figure.

Archimedes is said to have remarked about the lever:
Give me a place to stand on, and I will move the Earth.

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