Tuesday, January 22, 2008
Archimedes was born in the city of Syracuse on the island of Sicily in 287 BC. He was the son of an astronomer and mathematician named Phidias. Aside from that, very little is known about the early life of Archimedes or his family. Some maintain that he belonged to the nobility of Syracuse, and that his family was in some way related to that of Hiero II, King of Syracuse.
In the third century BC, Syracuse was a hub of commerce, art and science. As a youth in Syracuse Archimedes developed his natural curiosity and penchant for problem solving. When he had learned as much as he could from his teachers, Archimedes traveled to Egypt in order to study in Alexandria. Founded by Alexander the Great in 331 BC, Alexandria had, by Archimedes' time, earned a reputation for great learning and scholarship.
Euclid was one of the most well known scholars who lived in Alexandria prior to Archimedes' arrival in the city. Euclid was a renowned mathematician, perhaps best remembered for collecting all of the existent Greek geometrical treatises and assembling them in a logical and systematic order in his book, "The Elements." This compilation was fundamental to the study of geometry for over 2,000 years, and undoubtedly influenced the work of Archimedes.