How does Archimedes Heat Ray Workinmen

Who Was Archimedes - What did he Invent?

A Glimpse into Antiquity’s Greatest Mathematician. Archimedes is highly regarded in many circles. It was his remarkable mind - unrivaled but for a few individuals in history - which led to his legendary historical status.

Archimedes was born in Syracuse, on the island of Sicily (off the west coast of Italy) sometime in the early third century, B.C. (probably around 287) and would live for about 75 years, though much of his life has remained a mystery to historians.

He lived more than a century after the work of Aristotle and about three centuries after perhaps his greatest mathematical predecessor, Pythagoras.

Greece, at this point in history, existed as a number of independent city-states, Syracuse being one of them, which made Archimedes a citizen of Magna Grecia (the Greek-controlled regions of what is today Southern Italy).

The Ancient World’s Greatest Polymath

Archimedes ’father, it is presumed based on the scant records that have survived concerning him, was an astronomer named Phidias. Perhaps it is from him that Archimedes received his unceasing interest in nearly every scientific matter of the time.

While he is perhaps most fondly remembered today for his advancements in mathematics, Archimedes was also a phenomenal astronomer (perhaps like his father) and a revolutionary inventor, among his most famous inventions being:

  • Archimedes ’Screw - A simple device which simply consisted of a cylindrical, screw-shape blade within a hollow cylinder. When the screw was rotated, liquids (or really another other object) could be carried from one end of the cylinder to the other. While it is said that Archimedes invented the screw as a devices specifically to remove the bilge water from the bottom of Greek vessels, it certainly held a wide number of applications (there is a chance, however, that a version of this device predating Archimedes existed , such as one which was supposedly used to carry water to the top levels of the famed Hanging Gardens of Babylon).
  • The Archimedes Heat Ray - A source of common debate on this very day, Archimedes supposedly devised a mirror-based weapon which would direct the heat from the sun’s rays into a focused beam of energy, which could actually set approaching enemy ships on fire. While it has been concluded that it was very unlikely that such a devices could have proven effective (such as in this Time Magazine Article), the legend has nevertheless made its way down through history.
  • Various military / siege weapons - It is said that Archimedes greatly improved upon the ancient idea of ​​the catapult, and personally designed several other key siege weapons used in the ancient world.

Of course, Archimedes ’ability to aid the Syracuse military with his inventions did not, in the end, save his own life. He was killed by Roman soldiers during the invasion of Syracuse in 212 B.C., supposedly after refusing to heed the shouts of the ensuing army as he poured over some sort of mathematical diagram he had drown upon the dust of his floor.

The Math of Archimedes

Perhaps most important of all of Archimedes accomplishments were those key mathematical concepts which he developed, several of which would not be surpassed for nearly two thousand years after he had performed his work. These examples go even beyond the famed “Eureka” moment when Archimedes, in his bathtub, discovered the mathematical / physical principle of water displacement.

Archimedes is known (well before Newton would come along and perform similar work in the seventeenth century AD) as being the “original” father of integral calculus, after having developed some of the first ways to work out the areas within curved polygons by way of manipulating infinitesimals (an idea which seemed absolutely preposterous to many at the time, especially those who still held to the beliefs of the Pythagoreans).

Similarly, Archimedes developed a rather ingenious method by which to calculate the value of pi using what is called the method of exhaustion by which figures with increasingly great numbers of sides are inscribed within a circle until one reaches a decent approximation of the figure’s circumference.

In addition, Archimedes - long before the first calculators would ever make their way onto the scene in order to make the lives of mathematicians and students so much easier - was able to calculate the value of the square root of three to seven decimal places and to discover a method to calculate the quadrature of a parabola (that is, the area created when a line bisects a parabola at any point.

While all of these mathematical achievements are generally taken for granted today by mathematicians and students of mathematics who learn these things as early as high school, in the third century B.C. they were nothing short of revolutionary, carrying the world of mathematics forward by great leaps, perhaps only matched in the ancient world by Pythagoras and Euclid, and in the modern world by Newton or perhaps Carl Gauss.

Category: Science Tag: Archimedes, MathematicsLeave a comment