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You might be familiar with the never-ending number π (pi), which is most relevant for studying circles.
But you might not know much about the genius guy who first calculated pi: Archimedes of Syracuse, Sicily, one of the greatest mathematicians of the ancient world.
If you have heard of him, it’s likely for his Eureka moment. Archimedes is said to have run out naked in the streets yelling “Eureka!” when he discovered a way to figure out if the king’s crown was made of pure gold.
Archimedes used water in his bathtub to measure the buoyancy of the crown and to figure out its density. Later on, this became known as “Archimedes Principle” in physics.
Archimedes was born in 287 BC, the son of an astronomer who taught him everything he knew, according to University of St Andrews’ MacTutor History of Mathematics archive. Archimedes wanted to learn everything, so he traveled to Egypt to study. He believed that numbers were involved in anything and everything in the world. In fact, his vast knowledge of geometry was what inspired many of his inventions.
Archimedes was the first person to calculate an accurate estimate for pi, which we’ve since discovered is equal to about 3.14159. According to the Exploratorium in San Francisco, Archimedes thought pi’s value was somewhere between 3 1/7 (about 3.14285) and 3 10/71 (about 3.14084).
Archimedes’ work has inspired many people throughout history, including Galileo Galilei and Isaac Newton, to discover new concepts.
Archimedes set down the pillars for integral calculus through the calculations of volumes, areas and surface areas of objects. Some of his inventions helped the Greek people fight in wars with the Romans, and it is believed that he was assassinated by a soldier in 212 BC.
Archimedes’ discoveries not only earned him the title of mathematician, but put him down in history as a physicist, engineer and astronomer.
Mishka Mohamed Nour is a student at West High School and an editor, reporter and designer for the West Side Story.