Scientists and inventors Archimedes of Syracuse | Sunday Observer

Scientists and inventors Archimedes of Syracuse

7 August, 2022

Archimedes was a Greek mathematician who lived in Sicily in the third century B.C. His work in geometry, hydrostatics and mechanics was of a pioneer nature and the principles he laid down have been of paramount and lasting importance.


When ordinary men and women were going about in the Sicilian town, something strange happened. Men started gazing and women were horrified when a man started running down the middle of the road – stark naked! He was shouting one word which he repeated several times. Onlookers distinctly heard it as “Eureka!” meaning “I have found it!”

The man who ran naked was Archimedes of Syracuse.

The reason for him to run down the road was a story worth recollecting. Hiero, King of Syracuse, had commissioned a goldsmith to make a crown of pure gold.

When the goldsmith delivered the finished product, the king had suspicions that the craftsman had mixed the pure gold with inferior metals. However, the king had no way of finding out the truth. Archimedes was charged with the task of finding out the truth.

Scientific puzzle

The scientific puzzle started worrying Archimedes for several days.

While thinking of the problem, Archimedes went to the public baths as usual. He allowed the bath tub to be filled. When the water started overflowing, he lowered himself into the bath tub and then rose suddenly when he noticed what happened to the water.

Then he jumped out of the tub and started running repeating the word “Eureka!” He was so engrossed in his thoughts that he did not realize that he was stark naked!

After returning home he put his new-found knowledge to a practical test. He found that a body plunged in a liquid lost an amount of its weight which was equal to the weight of the fluid. It was the first fundamental law in hydrostatics. Thereafter, he was able to inform the king how much pure gold was in his crown.

The Archimedean screw

As a youth, Archimedes studied at Alexandria and invented the Archimedean screw, one of the fundamental discoveries in mechanics.

It was only one of the machines invented by him. When Carthaginians, Romans and Greeks started fighting with one another, the king wanted him to invent new weapons of offence and defence.

Although he was somewhat absent-minded, he told the king to give him a lever and a place on which to rest it. He said, “Then I will move the world.”

Because of his inventions, the Romans got terrified. Archimedes, the inspired engineer, kept the Romans at bay for nearly three years.

However, Syracuse fell in 12 B.C. and he was killed. It was not the brilliant inventor who died, but the absent-minded dreamer who ran naked down the street.

He was accorded an honourable burial.