De Architectura Quotes

"Eureka!"

Context: The Roman architect Vitruvius Pollio unearthed the familiar story about Archimedes, which is commonplace and known to all: The absent-minded scientist, always unaware of his surroundings while experimenting, had to be cared for hand and foot. One day, while brooding over a problem posed to him by the king (the percentage of gold that was in the crown), he was lowered into his bath and noticed the water over-flowing. He reckoned this excess of water to be the volume of his own bulk, and that further any property could be tested against any other by weighing it in and out of water. It is said that he ran naked from the bath to his house shouting. "Eureka," (I have found it!) His discovery of the principle of specific gravity meant that the goldsmith who made the crown lost his head for not making it of pure gold, for Archimedes tested the metal by his new-found system. Plutarch recalls that Archimedes worked always with this concentration, and would "trace geometric figures in the ashes of the fire and diagrams in the oil of his body" while at the bath. His death is said to have come about when the conquering Marcellus ordered Archimedes to appear before him, and the scientist replied "After I finish this problem," at which answer the indignant soldier sent for him struck off his head. Marcellus, sorry for this outrage, erected a monument to the great scientist. Above all else, however, Archimedes is remembered by most people for his triumphant cry:

"Eureka!"