Many great mathematicians of the past had an impact on physical sciences. This paper will discuss the historical background, respective times, and contemporary and modern societal contributions of three of those mathematicians: Archimedes of Syracuse, Isaac Newton, and Leonhard Euler.
Archimedes of Syracuse
Archimedes was born in a Greek city-state of Syracuse, Sicily in 287 BC. He was killed during a Roman incursion in 212 BC during the Second Punic War. Archimedes was purportedly largely responsible for the defense of Syracuse as they held the Romans off for two years with the use of his war machines.
Most of the information we currently have about Archimedes is anecdotal. Important figures such as Plutarch immortalized Archimedes in their own works and their many references to his discoveries, mathematical theories, and brilliant mechanical innovations. In Archimedes¡¯ time, he was most memorable for his mechanical innovations such as the ¡°Claw of Archimedes¡± or ¡°ship shaker¡±. Plutarch described these machine as ¡°huge poles thrust out from the [city] walls¡±, which either dropped heavy weights down upon the attacking Roman ships sinking them or lifted these ships so that they would plunge poop deck-first into the sea. At times, they lifted ships high into the air and waved them about until all the mariners had fallen into the sea (O'Connor & Robertson, 1999, ¢Ò 10). According to a translated twelfth century book, Archimedes is reported to have constructed a reflective device to focus the sun¡¯s rays on the prow of the Roman ships, which purportedly set them on fire (Tzetzes, c.12th century). Plutarch also relates an incident about Archimedes¡¯ demonstration of his compound pulley. King Hieron of Syracuse requested that Archimedes demonstrate the practical application of his scientific discoveries so that common people could appreciate the usefulness of his science. Archimedes used his... [continues]
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