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Archimedes

  • Date Submitted: 08/11/2010 07:29 AM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 49.3 
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Archimedes was born c. 287 BC in the seaport city of Syracuse, Sicily, at that time a self-governing colony in Magna Graecia. The date of birth is based on a statement by the Byzantine Greek historian John Tzetzes that Archimedes lived for 75 years.[7] In The Sand Reckoner, Archimedes gives his father's name as Phidias, an astronomer about whom nothing is known. Plutarch wrote in his Parallel Lives that Archimedes was related to King Hiero II, the ruler of Syracuse.[8] A biography of Archimedes was written by his friend Heracleides but this work has been lost, leaving the details of his life obscure.[9] It is unknown, for instance, whether he ever married or had children. During his youth Archimedes may have studied in Alexandria, Egypt, where Conon of Samosand Eratosthenes of Cyrene were contemporaries. He referred to Conon of Samos as his friend, while two of his works (The Method of Mechanical Theoremsand the Cattle Problem) have introductions addressed to Eratosthenes.[a]
Archimedes died c. 212 BC during the Second Punic War, when Roman forces under General Marcus Claudius Marcellus captured the city of Syracuse after a two-year-long siege. According to the popular account given by Plutarch, Archimedes was contemplating a mathematical diagram when the city was captured. A Roman soldier commanded him to come and meet General Marcellus but he declined, saying that he had to finish working on the problem. The soldier was enraged by this, and killed Archimedes with his sword. Plutarch also gives a lesser-known account of the death of Archimedes which suggests that he may have been killed while attempting to surrender to a Roman soldier. According to this story, Archimedes was carrying mathematical instruments, and was killed because the soldier thought that they were valuable items. General Marcellus was reportedly angered by the death of Archimedes, as he considered him a valuable scientific asset and had ordered that he not be harmed.[10]

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