The archetype of the science genius didn’t use to be Albert Einstein. For centuries, the quintessential irreverent, visionary scientist, immersed in a world of his own making to the point of forgetting to put on his clothes, was instead an ancient Greek mathematician. His name was Archimedes of Syracuse.
While in his bath tub Archimedes figured the law of buoyancy (BOI) : the principle that still bears his name. The story says that Archimedes had an epiphany while taking a bath, jumped out of the water and ran naked down the street screaming “Eureka!” which means “I’ve found it!”
For two millennia Euclid’s Elements had its place as a geometry textbook and a paragon of rational thought.
Among those few who later understood Archimedes were Galileo Galilei, Isaac Newton, and Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz, and it is not a coincidence that these men were the founders of modern science. more…
© 2011 Scientific American
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