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Math Brain Teaser for Kids and Adults: Archimedes Grave

(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?

What sculp­ture was hon­or­ing Archimedes grave and why:

  1. Gold­en crown com­mem­o­rat­ing his famous Eure­ka moment
  2. A sim­ple cylin­der and a sphere
  3. 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, MathmomMaria 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

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.

Relat­ed Brain Teasers for Kids and Adults:

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As seen in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, BBC News, CNN, Reuters,  SharpBrains is an independent market research firm tracking how brain science can improve our health and our lives.

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