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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.

Category: History