Archimedes: Math Genius
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Archimedes' father was Phidias, an astronomer. We know nothing else about Phidias other than this one fact and we only know this since Archimedes gives us this information in one of his works, The Sandreckoner. A friend of Archimedes called Heracleides wrote a biography of him but sadly this work is lost. How our knowledge of Archimedes would be transformed if this lost work were ever found, or even extracts found in the writing of others.
Archimedes was a native of Syracuse, Sicily. It is reported by some authors that he visited Egypt and there invented a device now known as Archimedes' screw. This is a pump, still used in many parts of the world. It is highly likely that, when he was a young man, Archimedes studied with the successors of Euclid in Alexandria. Certainly he was completely familiar with the mathematics developed there, but what makes this conjecture much more certain, he knew personally the mathematicians working there and he sent his results to Alexandria with personal messages. He regarded Conon of Samos, one of the mathematicians at Alexandria, both very highly for his abilities as a mathematician and he also regarded him as a close friend.
In the preface to On spirals Archimedes relates an amusing story regarding his friends in Alexandria. He tells us that he was in the habit of sending them statements of his latest theorems, but without giving proofs. Apparently some of the mathematicians there had claimed the results as their own so Archimedes says that on the last occasion when he sent them theorems he included two which were false-
.. so that those who claim to discover everything, but produce no proofs of the same, may be confuted as having pretended to discover the impossible.
Other than in the prefaces to his works, information about Archimedes comes to us from a number of sources such as in stories from Plutarch, Livy, and others. Plutarch tells us that Archimedes was related to King Hieron II of Sy...
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