The Science of Archimedes

Archimedes’ time, known as the Hellenistic era, started with the period of peace which began following the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC. While amassing a huge empire, Greek civilisation achieved substantial scientific advancement. The merger of Egyptian and Mesopotamian technical knowledge (construction and arithmetic skills) with sophisticated Greek geometry gave the Greeks the military edge over their enemies.

During this period, Greek mathematicians led by Archimedes of Syracuse, revolutionised the world, inventing new machines for engineering and for war. They built lighthouses, harnessed the Sun’s energy using mirrors and discovered ways to balance large objects in water (buoyancy) in order to build huge ships. Using geometry, they were able to measure the Earth’s distance from the Sun, the size of our planet and even track its moment around the Sun.

Our newest blockbuster exhibition allows visitors to explore the science of Archimedes for themselves through interactive exhibits curated into four themes:

    Visitors can use the ancient legendary machines associated with Archimedes’ life such as Ballistae, ‘iron-hands’ and ‘burning mirrors’ for sinking ships, as well as machines for building the great Pyramids of Egypt.
    These ancient machines were designed to work with the energy of gravity, wind flow, water flow and solar rays. Theme 2 showcases ancient holograms, huge dishes for sound propagation, the lost lighthouse of Alexandria and reveals the secret behind Archimedes’ mechanical paradox in which objects roll ‘uphill’.
  • Theme 3 – THE POWER OF SHAPES’
    Archimedes’ mastery of geometry allowed him to create practical technology that revolutionised his world. In this section, visitors can have fun with geometry, solve puzzles and use the building blocks of the 3rd century.

    Archimedes’ lasting impact can be clearly seen through the examination of the legends of science who studied his writings and took his ideas further. In this theme, we delve into the works of the two most notable scientists influenced by his work: Leonardo da Vinci and Galileo Galilei.

    For the first time, we are making some of our most popular touring exhibition activities and worksheets available on the Activities page of our website.

One could flow through life with ease if they could just remember the teachings of Archimedes.
– Galileo Galilei