Oct 21, 2011
(Editor’s Note: every other Friday, starting today, we’ll publish a brain teaser to exercise our brains a bit. Here you have one submitted by new contributor Maria Lando. Enjoy!).
Archimedes made a plenitude of significant scientific discoveries throughout his life. He designed machines capable of lifting attacking ships out of the water as well as mirror arrays capable of focusing sun rays and setting enemy ships on fire. He explained why and how bodies float in the water, helping the king verify that his crown is indeed made out of pure gold. He was fascinated with infinity and found the way of approximating the number Pi as well as counting the number of grains of sand that will fit inside the universe. He died telling a Roman soldier that he is too busy to meet a general as he was contemplating yet another mathematical diagram. His tomb was decorated with his favorite discovery …. What do you think it is?
- Golden crown commemorating his famous Eureka moment
- A simple cylinder and a sphere
- A lever with which he promised he could pick up the Earth.
(Puzzle answer is below. Please try to solve it before checking out the answer!)
Maria Lando (aka TheMathMom) illuminates and demystifies mathematics for adults, describing its fun use in everyday life. TheMathMom has been featured in the Boston Globe, The Jewish Advocate, and Redbook Magazine. Her weekly newsletter contains stories and puzzles for the whole family, and tips on perceiving math and presenting it to kids as a toy, a tool, and a friend. Learn more at www.TheMathMom.com.
PUZZLE ANSWER: Archimedes of Syracuse was a true Renaissance man – mathematician, physicist, inventor, astronomer. He is mostly famous through a saucy story of Eureka moment in the bathtub, his ingenious military constructions such as using mirrors tofocus sunlight and burn the approaching enemy ships, and his promise to lift the Earth with a lever if only given a place to stand on. But he himself regarded as his greatest mathematical attachment his proof that the sphere has two thirds of the volume and surface area of the cylinder constructed around it. This sculpture of a simple sphere boxed in a cylinder was placed on his gravestone. Correct answer is 2.
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