Eureka! Eureka! (I have found it!)
Having played with fire, one knows inner forms, inner function.
— Kijima Hajime
Let’s first debunk the “fake news”! Famed scientist and mathematician, Archimedes, probably did not cry out “Eureka! Eureka!” (Greek for “I have found it!”) when he sat in a public bath in Syracuse, Sicily, discovering one of his—and our—“laws of buoyancy”!
But, as with most good, apocryphal stories—the parables in the Bible, for example—there are grains of truth, lessons to be vetted and discerned—pieces to be integrated into the bigger puzzle.
Here’s the story/myth: Hiero, the local tyrant, suspects a goldsmith of replacing a measure of gold with silver in a golden crown. Hiero contacts Archimedes to verify his suspicions. But… how?
During a trip to a local bathhouse, “the Arch” observes that the more he sinks in the bath, the greater the displacement of water. And, that displaced water correlates with his body’s weight and volume! Now he reasons: gold is heavier than silver; therefore, a crown of silver and gold would be bulker than a crown solely of gold—thus displacing more water! “Voila!” he cries (or, more precisely, “Eureka!”) And he leaps out of the bath, runs naked through the Greek colony, declaring his discovery. (Whether or not the ladies were amused or alarmed is not reported….)
It’s a good story about the way critical minds work: they “vet.” They…