||Unfortunately, history has reduced the Greek scientist and mathematician Archimedes to a caricature, as even schoolchildren know the story of how he shouted "Eureka!" and streaked through the streets naked after ascertaining the relationship between an object's density and the volume of water it displaces. Like most scientific and historical anecdotes, the story is most likely conjecture, but Alan Hirshfeld's assiduous and entertaining biography reveals a wealth of newly verified information about Archimedes that should cement his status as one of the greatest mathematical minds of all time. Archimedes's most important contributions to mathematics include calculating the formulas for determining both the surface area and volume of a sphere and discovering the numerical value of pi. Hirshfeld also unveils the results of a recent analysis of an ancient document known as the "Archimedes palimpsest," which shows that he also deserves credit for discovering calculus--some 2000 years before Isaac Newton and Gottfried Leibniz.
|Editors Note 2
||The extraordinary genius of Archimedes—scientist, mathematician, engineer, and showman. Many of us know little about Archimedes other than his “Eureka” exclamation upon discovering that he could immerse an object in a full tub of water and measure the spillage to determine the object’s volume. That simple observation helped establish the key principles of buoyancy that govern the flotation of hot-air balloons, boats, and denizens of the sea. Archimedes had a profound impact on the development of mathematics and science: from square roots to the stability of ships; number systems to levers; the value of pi to the size of the universe. Yet this same cerebral man developed machines of war that held at bay the greatest army of antiquity. Ironically, Archimedes’ reputation swelled to mythic proportions in the ancient world for his feats of engineering: the hand-cranked irrigation device—commonly known as “Archimedes’ screw”—and his ingenuous use of levers, pulleys, and ropes to launch, single-handedly, a fully laden ship! His rediscovered treatises guided nascent thinkers out of the Dark Ages and into the Renaissance. Indeed, Archimedes’ cumulative record of achievement places him among the exalted ranks of Aristotle, Leonardo da Vinci, Isaac Newton, and Albert Einstein. Eureka Man brings to life for general readers the genius of Archimedes, offering succinct and understandable explanations of some of his amazing discoveries and innovations.