Archimedes and the Door of Science

by Jeanne Bendick

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What are four discoveries by Archimedes? How and why was the Archimedean screw created?

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Archimedes and the Door of Science tells the story of one of the most famous mathematicians and inventors of all time. Archimedes was born in Ancient Greece but studied in Alexandria. The discoveries and inventions of Archimedes are many, and they forever changed the disciplines of mathematics, physics, engineering and astronomy.

The Archimedes Principle

Archimedes and the Door of Science presents the Archimedes Principle in a humorous light. Archimedes was asked to test King Hiero's crown to determine whether it was genuine. While bathing, he made an observation about objects in water that helped him devise a suitable test and ran out into the streets crying, "Eureka!" This principle holds that the upward buoyant force of an object submerged in liquid is equal to the weight of the liquid it displaces. This means that if the weight of the water is less than the object's weight, the object will sink.

The Law of the Lever

Archimedes discovered that magnitudes reach a state of balance at distances that are proportional to their weights. It is this discovery that led Archimedes to comment, "Give me a place to stand on, and I will move the earth." With this knowledge, he developed block and pulley systems that made it possible for humans to move much larger objects with the power of leverage. This discovery also led Archimedes to a formula for determining the volume of spheres.


Archimedes is known for discovering thirteen unique figures, including the truncated tetrahedron, the cuboctahedron, the truncated octahedron, the truncated cube and the Rhombicuboctahedron. These figures play an important role in the study of geometry and space. Each of these figures is contained by equilateral and equiangular polygons and they are all naturally formed.

The Archimedian Screw

The Archimedian Screw is a device for raising water. Archimedes came to this discovery after finding the relationship between the surface and volume of a sphere and its cylinder. This device is based on the Archimedes Principle and it is used to raise water to a higher level. Also known as a screwpump, this machine was used to transfer water from a low body into an irrigation system. Some researchers believe that similar devices were in use as early as the 7th century B.C., but many hold that Archimedes was the one who first discovered it. The exact date on which Archimedes invented this machine is unknown, but researchers believe it to have been created around 250 B.C.

These four inventions illustrate the genius of Archimedes portrayed throughout the book. While little is known about the inventor's daily life, Archimedes and the Door of Science provides some engaging insights into his discoveries and their impact on the world.

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