The Greek symbol pi designates the ratio of the circumference

of a circle to its diameter. The ratio itself, 

equal to 3.14159265+ (typically expressed as 3.1416).


Archimedes was a famous mathematician whose theorems and philosophies became world known. He gained a reputation in his own time which few other mathematicians of this period achieved. He is considered by most historians of mathematics as one of the greatest mathematicians of all time. He discovered pi.


Archimedes of Syracuse (circa 287 BC - 212 BC), was a Greek mathematician, astronomer, philosopher, physicist and engineer. He was killed by a Roman soldier during the sack of the city, despite orders from the Roman general, Marcellus, that he was not to be harmed. (The Greeks said that he was killed while drawing an equation in the sand, and told this story to contrast their high-mindedness with Roman ham-handedness; however, it should be noted that Archimedes designed the siege engines that devastated a substantial Roman invasion force, so his death may have been out of retribution.) Some math historians consider Archimedes to be one of history's greatest mathematicians, along with possibly Newton, Gauss, and Euler.


Most of the facts about his life come from a biography about the Roman soldier Marcellus written by the Roman biographer Plutarch. According to Plutarch, Archimedes had so low an opinion of the kind of practical invention at which he excelled and to which he owed his contemporary fame that he left no written work on such subjects. While it is true that--apart from a dubious reference to a treatise, On Sphere-Making - all of his known works were of a theoretical character, nevertheless his interest in mechanics deeply influenced his mathematical thinking. Not only did he write works on theoretical mechanics and hydrostatics, but his treatise Method Concerning Mechanical Theorems shows that he used mechanical reasoning as a heuristic device for the discovery of new mathematical theorems.


He was best known for his discovery of the relation between the surface and volume of a sphere and its circumscribing cylinder, for his formulation of a hydrostatic principle Archimedes' principle and for inventing the Archimedes screw (a device for raising water).



This machine for raising water, allegedly invented by the ancient Greek scientist Archimedes for removing water from the hold of a large ship. One form consists of a circular pipe enclosing a helix and inclined at an angle of about 45 degrees to the horizontal with its lower end dipped in the water; rotation of the device causes the water to rise in the pipe. Other forms consist of a helix revolving in a fixed cylinder or a helical tube wound around a shaft.



Another Archimedes Invention - Ancient Death Ray "New"


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 Updated: March 25, 2007 04:37 PM.