Archimedes

Archimedes was an ancient Greek mathematician, physicist, inventor, engineer and astronomer. He is regarded as one of the most important scientists in classical antiquity and one of the greatest mathematicians of all time.

He was born to a Greek family around 287BC in Syracuse, Sicily, Italy. This was a self-governing colony in Magna Graecia that was extensively populated by Greek families. His father Phidias was an astronomer.

Little is generally known about his personal life, although he is believed to have been educated in Alexandria in Egypt as a child, although in later life it is not known if he married or had children.

Archimedes was to accomplish much in his long life, and he designed many innovative devices, some of which are still used today. Many of his designs were made to protect his home-town of Syracuse from invasion.

Archimedes Screw: A screw positioned inside a hollow pipe. The screw would be turned manually at the bottom, scoop up water and pour it out the top. This was a form of irrigation system and could be used for draining water out of mines, amongst other things.

Claw of Archimedes (Ship Shaker): A crane-like arm with a grappling hook suspended from it. It was used in naval battles. It was dropped onto an attacking ship and the arm would swing upwards, it would lift the ship out of the water and hopefully sink it.

Heat Ray: Mirrors used as a parabolic reflector (reflective surface to collect and project energy).

Although best remembered for his mechanical designs, he also made an important contribution to the field of mathematics.

He died around 212BC during 2nd Punic War, killed by a Roman soldier as Syracuse was captured following a 2 year siege.

The Tomb of Archimedes carried a sculpture of his favourite mathematical proof; a sphere and a cylinder of the same height and diameter.

Many honours have been given to Archimedes from scientists, due to his importance. These have included:

A crater on the moon named after him
Mountains on the moon named Montes Archimedes.

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