Ancient Engineers: Archimedes

The modern engineering world is one of immense computing skill and seemingly impossible projects undertaken with cutting edge technology. Looking at modern engineering projects it seems hard to believe that almost all engineering can trace its roots back to a man born in 287 years BC.
We are of course talking about Archimedes, one of the most recognised names in history, but who was he?


Who was Archimedes?

Born in Syracuse, Archimedes was the son of an astronomer but other than this, little is known about the life of this incredible man. For example, it is not known if he was married or had any children; what we do know about him is the incredible amount of inventions and theories that he created during his life. Unfortunately we do know that his life was cut short by a Roman soldier who killed Archimedes during the siege of Syracuse. Who knows what else could have been achieved were he to have lived longer?

Inventions and Theories

  • Screw pump

  • Claw of Archimedes (a defensive weapon)

  • Heat Ray (utilising mirrors to focus the suns heat, creating a solar furnace)

  • Explained the principle behind leverage

As well as these and many more, it is the principle of buoyancy that Archimedes is best known for, the principle that often carries his name to this day.

Archimedes Principle

Put simply this theory dictates that the buoyant force exerted on an object when partially or wholly submerged in water is equivalent to the weight of the water displaced.