archimedes

Cultural Dictionary
Archimedes [(ahr-kuh-mee-deez)]

An ancient Greek scientist, mathematician, and inventor. He is best known for his investigations of buoyancy.

Note: Archimedes is said to have shouted “Eureka!” (“I have found it!”) as he stepped into his bath and realized that the volume of an object can be measured by determining how much water it displaces. He used this insight to measure the volume of a crown supposedly made of pure gold. After measuring the crown's volume and weighing it, he could calculate its density. He then could prove that the crown was not dense enough to be pure gold.
Note: According to the “principle of Archimedes,” when an object placed in water is weighed, and its weight in the water is compared to its weight out of the water, it seems to lose a definite amount — an amount equal to the weight of the water it displaces. This principle holds not only for water, but also for gases, such as air. A boat floats, or a balloon rises, because it weighs less than the material it displaces. (See buoyancy.) Archimedes is also supposed to have said, with regard to levers and fulcrums, “Give me the place to stand, and a lever long enough, and I will move the Earth!”
The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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