Archimedes - Creativity and Science
Archimedes (287-212 BC)
Father of modern science (pictured right) from Syracuse in Sicily.
Why is he famous?
Legend says he ran through the streets naked after a bath shouting “Eureka!” (“I have
found it!”) on discovering the Archimedes Principle (that says an object displaces its own
weight in water).
Why was he so creative?
1. Inspiration with perspiration
His famous eureka moment in the bath would have been impossible without his preliminary
hard work and thought.
2. Original and imaginative
He was the first person to use mathematics to solve practical problems.
For example, he discovered the
a) Archimedes screw
A revolving screw inside a hollow pipe in which water rises up to a higher level (pictured
b) approximate volume and area of a sphere
c) approximate value of pi (pictured right)
d) distance of the planets from the Earth
e) principle of the lever
(levering things upwards on a fulcrum).
“Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I shall move the world”, he said.
Pictured right is Archimedes levering the world in a 1824 London magazine.
3. Questioning and argument
He continually questioned:
- other people’s assumptions.
He proved a hypothesis by:
- asking ‘what if?’ questions.
- discussing and arguing ideas with other people.
4. Concentration and obsession with a problem
He concentrated so intensely on the problems facing him that he:
- didn’t wash or look after himself.
- had to be forced to have a bath (and even then he was still thinking about his work)
- was killed by a Roman soldier (because he refused to move until he had worked out a
He was unaware that the Romans had invaded!
5. Fun and leisure
Because he was quite rich, he had lots of time to think and reflect.
He was also able to work so hard because he loved it so much.
He solved complex problems by splitting them up into smaller, easier ones.
Key quote on
Eureka!( I have found it!)
Key quote on
Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I shall move the world.