Archimedes (287-212 BC), preeminent Greek
mathematician and inventor, who wrote important works
on plane and solid geometry, arithmetic, and mechanics.
Archimedes was born in Syracuse, Sicily, and educated in
Alexandria, Egypt. In pure mathematics he anticipated
many of the discoveries of modern science, such as the
integral calculus, through his studies of the areas and
volumes of curved solid figures and the areas of plane
figures. He also proved that the volume of a sphere is
two-thirds the volume of a cylinder that circumscribes the
sphere. In mechanics, Archimedes defined the principle of
the lever and is credited with inventing the compound
pulley. During his stay in Egypt he invented the hydraulic
screw for raising water from a lower to a higher level. He is
best known for discovering the law of hydrostatics, often
called Archimedes' principle, which states that a body
immersed in fluid loses weight equal to the weight of the
amount of fluid it displaces. This discovery is said to have
been made as Archimedes stepped into his bath and
perceived the displaced water overflowing, and after
viewing that had ran outside into the streets naked
screaming "Eureka!(I found it!)" Archimedes spent the
major part of his life in Sicily, in and around Syracuse. He
did not hold any public office but devoted his entire lifetime
to research and experiment. During the Roman conquest of
Sicily, however, he placed his gifts at the disposal of the
state, and several of his mechanical devices were employed
in the defense of Syracuse. Among the war machines
attributed to him are the catapult and-perhaps legendary-a
mirror system for focusing the sun's rays on the invaders'
boats and igniting them. After the capture of Syracuse
during the Second Punic War, Archimedes was killed by a
Roman soldier who found him drawing a mathematical
diagram in the sand. It is said that Archimedes was so
absorbed in calculation that he offended the intruder merely
by remarking, "Do not disturb my diagrams." Several of his
works on mathematics and mechanics survive, including
Floating Bodies, The Sand Reckoner, Measurement of the
Circle, Spirals, and Sphere and Cylinder. They all exhibit
the rigor and imaginativeness of his mathematical thinking.