Login

Who is Archimedes? - Biography, Inventions & Contributions

An error occurred trying to load this video.

Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support.

Coming up next: Mechanical Advantage of the Wheel & Axle

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
 Replay
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:02 The Man
  • 1:00 Inventions
  • 2:05 Weapons
  • 2:26 The Math
  • 3:21 Lesson Summary
Add to Add to Add to

Want to watch this again later?

Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course.

Login or Sign up

Timeline
Autoplay
Autoplay
Create an account to start this course today
Try it free for 5 days!
Create An Account

Recommended Lessons and Courses for You

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Flint Johnson

Flint has tutored mathematics through precalculus, science, and English and has taught college history. He has a Ph.D. from the University of Glasgow

What follows is a brief biography of the Sicilian inventor and mathematician Archimedes. His more important contributions to science and mathematics are listed and explained, and a short quiz follows the lesson.

The Man

Archimedes was a Sicilian inventor and mathematician who lived circa 287-212 B.C.E. His accomplishments, though over 2,000 years old, have stayed with us. If you've ever looked to see how far you've gone in a car, or tried to figure out how big a circle is, or even if you have ever taken an accounting class, you have run into something Archimedes did that affects us to this day.

It's difficult to pin down any exact details about Archimedes' life, which is sad because he was probably the most interesting person of his time. Any biographies that might have been written about him -- by his friends or by his enemies -- have been long lost. He might have been married and had children, or he might have been alone his whole life. All that is known for certain is that he died in the Second Punic War when the Roman general Marcus Claudius Marcellus captured Syracuse, Sicily. One of the general's soldiers killed Archimedes against orders.

Inventions

Archimedes solved a number of problems for Sicily during his life, and these solutions constitute most of his inventions. When a goldsmith was commissioned to make a crown for King Hiero using the gold he was supplied, the king suspected him of dishonesty and asked Archimedes to determine whether there was some silver substituted in.

Archimedes came up with the Archimedes Principle in response. He realized that if he found the crown's mass and divided it by the crown's volume, he could figure out the density of the crown. Archimedes knew how dense an object of equal volume should be, so all he needed to do was compare the two results. We still use density in the same way, for figuring out how much of each element is in an object.

On another occasion, Archimedes was asked to design a huge ship and invented the Archimedes screw in order to solve the problem of bilge water. The Archimedes screw is a tool still used for moving liquids and granulated solids. He also invented the block and tackle pulley system and the odometer, and he made significant improvements to the catapult.

Weapons

Archimedes was also responsible for designing several weapons that could help his people defend themselves. There was the Claw of Archimedes, which could be used to disable or overturn a ship. His heat ray used bronze mirrors and the sun to generate a fire on a ship. In a way, the heat ray works a lot like today's lasers.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account

Register for a free trial

Are you a student or a teacher?
I am a teacher

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use Study.com

Become a Study.com member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 95 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 2,000 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? Study.com has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it free for 5 days!
Create An Account
Support