11 Archimedes Facts: How Archimedes Infuriated Mathematicians
Infuriated mathematicians who tried to replicate his discoveries 18 centuries later – they could not understand how Archimedes had achieved his results.
12 Calculated pi to the most precise value known. His upper limit for pi was the fraction 22?7. This value was still in use in the late 20th century, until electronic calculators finally laid it to rest.
13 Invented war machines such as a highly accurate catapult, which stopped the Romans conquering Syracuse for years. It’s now believed he may have done this by understanding the mathematics of projectile trajectory.
14 Inspired what we now believe are myths including a mirror system to burn attacking ships using the sun’s rays, and jumping from his bath, then running naked through the streets of Syracuse shouting ‘Eureka’ meaning ‘I’ve found it’ after realizing how to prove whether the king’s gold crown had silver in it.
15 Directly inspired Galileo Galilei and Isaac Newton to investigate the mathematics of motion. Archimedes’ surviving works (tragically, many have been lost) finally made it into print in 1544. Leonardo da Vinci was lucky enough to have seen some of the hand-copied works of Archimedes before they were eventually printed.
16 Archimedes Inventions: Archimedes’ Screw
The Claw of Archimedes is a weapon that he is said to have designed in order to defend the city of Syracuse. Also known as “the ship shaker,” the claw consisted of a crane-like arm from which a large metal grappling hook was suspended. When the claw was dropped onto an attacking ship the arm would swing upwards, lifting the ship out of the water and possibly sinking it. There have been modern experiments to test the feasibility of the claw, and in 2005 a television documentary entitled Superweapons of the Ancient World built a version of the claw and concluded that it was a workable device.[
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17 Archimedes Inventions: Claw of Archimedes
A large part of Archimedes’ work in engineering arose from fulfilling the needs of his home city of Syracuse. The Greek writer Athenaeus of Naucratis described how King Hiero II commissioned Archimedes to design a huge ship, the Syracusia, which could be used for luxury travel, carrying supplies, and as a naval warship. The Syracusia is said to have been the largest ship built in classical antiquity. According to Athenaeus, it was capable of carrying 600 people and included garden decorations, a gymnasium and a temple dedicated to the goddess Aphrodite among its facilities. Since a ship of this size would leak a considerable amount of water through the hull, the Archimedes’ screw was purportedly developed in order to remove the bilge water. Archimedes’ machine was a device with a revolving screw-shaped blade inside a cylinder. It was turned by hand, and could also be used to transfer water from a low-lying body of water into irrigation canals. The Archimedes’ screw is still in use today for pumping liquids and granulated solids such as coal and grain.
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