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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About SharpBrains

SHARPBRAINS is an independent think-tank and consulting firm providing services at the frontier of applied neuroscience, health, leadership and innovation.
SHARPBRAINS es un think-tank y consultoría independiente proporcionando servicios para la neurociencia aplicada, salud, liderazgo e innovación.

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