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Few certain details remain about the life of antiquity’s greatest mathematician, Archimedes. We know he was born in 287 B.C.E. around Syracuse from a report about 1400 years after the fact. Archimedes tells about his father, Pheidias, in his book The Sandreckoner. Pheidias was an astronomer, who was famous for being the author of a treatise on the diameters of the sun and the moon. Historians speculate that Pheidias’ profession explains why Archimedes chose his career. Some scholars have characterized Archimedes as an aristocrat who actively participated in the Syracusan court and may have been related to the ruler of Syracuse, King Hieron II. We also know Archimedes died in 212 B.C.E. at the age of 75 in Syracuse. It is said that he was killed by a Roman soldier, who was offended by Achimedes, while the Romans seized Syracuse.

Archimedes had a wide variety of interests, which included encompassing statics, hydrostatics, optics, astronomy, engineering, geometry, and arithmetic. Archimedes had more stories passed down through history about his clever inventions than his mathematical theorems. This is believed to be so because the average mind of that period would have no interest in the Archimedean spiral, but would pay attention to an invention that could move the earth. Archimedes’ most famous story is attributed to a Roman architect under Emperor Augustus, named Vitruvius. Vitruvius asked Archimedes to devise some way to test the weight of a gold wreath. Archimedes was unsuccessful until one day as he entered a full bath, he noticed that the deeper he submerged into the tub, the more water flowed out of the tub. This made him realize that the amount of water that flowed out of the tub was equal to the volume of the object being submerged. Therefore by putting the wreath into the water, he could tell by the rise in water level the volume of the wreath, despite its irregular shape. This discovery marked the Law of Hydrostatics...

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