History lessons: Let inspiration strike - Archimedes

The great Greek mathematician clearly had a lot going on upstairs, but even he had trouble getting the cogs moving sometimes. Take his famous 'eureka' moment. Syracuse's King Hiero entrusted Archimedes with an important task: he'd had a gold crown made and wanted to know whether the smith was conning him by adding in silver. The teaser was apparently proving too much even for Archimedes - until inspiration struck in the bath. Noticing how the water level rose as he got in, he realised this was a way to measure the crown's density. Less water would be displaced if the crown was pure gold than if it contained silver, a less dense metal. Legend has it that the great thinker was so pleased with the discovery that he leapt up and ran naked through the streets shouting: 'Eureka!' ('I've found it!'). Next time you face a taxing conundrum, copy Archimedes: step back, take time to relax and you may have a eureka moment of your own. Just don't get carried away in your celebration.

Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

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