Archimedes: The Center of Gravity, and the First Law of Mechanics

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Archimedes was the first to introduce infinitesimals, the foundation of calculus. He described the first infinite geometric progression, computed the area and volume of the sphere and the area of parabola segments, invented a positional numeral system, created the fields of statics and hydrostatics, discovered the laws of the lever, buoyancy, fluid equilibria, density, the center of gravity, etc.

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Above: National Museum of Naples. Archimedes also invented the spiral pump still widely used for irrigation in many countries as well as war machines such as improved catapults, ray cannons based on focused sun beams, land-based cranes to lift and sink attacking ships, etc. Many writings of Archimedes were lost through the burning of the Library of Alexandria, but the surviving work was sufficient to cement his preeminent place in the history of science and technology.

Fibonacci web design. Was Archimedes really the greatest scientist ever? Let us have a look at his potential competitors. Some say Gauss was not only the most influential mathematician since antiquity but also of all time. The "force" is directed outward from the center of motion. Charles' Law The volume of an ideal gas at constant pressure is proportional to the thermodynamic temperature of that gas. Cherenkov Radiation Radiation emitted by a massive particle which is moving faster than light in the medium through which it is traveling.

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No particle can travel faster than light in vacuum, but the speed of light in other media, such as water, glass, etc. Cherenkov radiation is the electromagnetic analogue of the sonic boom, though Cherenkov radiation is a shockwave set up in the electromagnetic field. Complementarity Principle The principle that a given system cannot exhibit both wave-like behavior and particle-like behavior at the same time. That is, certain experiments will reveal the wave-like nature of a system, and certain experiments will reveal the particle-like nature of a system, but no experiment will reveal both simultaneously.


Compton Effect An effect that demonstrates that photons the quantum of electromagnetic radiation have momentum. A photon fired at a stationary particle, such as an electron, will impart momentum to the electron and, since its energy has been decreased, will experience a corresponding decrease in frequency.

Conservation Laws Conservation of mass-energy The total mass-energy of a closed system remains constant. Conservation of electric charge The total electric charge of a closed system remains constant. Conservation of linear momentum The total linear momentum of a closed system remains constant. Conservation of angular momentum The total angular momentum of a closed system remains constant. There are several other laws that deal with particle physics, such as conservation of baryon number, of strangeness, etc.

Constancy Principle One of the postulates of A. Einstein's special theory of relativity, which puts forth that the speed of light in vacuum is measured as the same speed to all observers, regardless of their relative motion.

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Continuity Equation An equation which states that a fluid flowing through a pipe flows at a rate which is inversely proportional to the cross-sectional area of the pipe. It is in essence a restatement of the conservation of mass during constant flow. Copernican Principle The idea, suggested by Copernicus, that the Sun, not the Earth, is at the center of the Universe. We now know that neither idea is correct. Coriolis Pseudoforce A pseudoforce which arises because of motion relative to a frame of reference which is itself rotating relative to a second, inertial frame.

The magnitude of the Coriolis "force" is dependent on the speed of the object relative to the noninertial frame, and the direction of the "force" is orthogonal to the object's velocity. Correspondence Principle The principle that when a new, more general theory is put forth, it must reduce to the more specialized and usually simpler theory under normal circumstances. There are correspondence principles for general relativity to special relativity and special relativity to Newtonian mechanics, but the most widely known correspondence principle is that of quantum mechanics to classical mechanics.

Coulomb's Law The primary law for electrostatics, analogous to Newton's law of universal gravitation. It states that the force between two point charges is proportional to the algebraic product of their respective charges as well as proportional to the inverse square of the distance between them.

Dalton's Law of partial pressures The total pressure of a mixture of ideal gases is equal to the sum of the partial pressures of its components; that is, the sum of the pressures that each component would exert if it were present alone and occupied the same volume as the mixture.

Julius Sumner Miller's Dramatic Demonstrations in Physics

Doppler Effect Waves emitted by a moving object as received by an observer will be blueshifted compressed if approaching, redshifted elongated if receding. It occurs both in sound as well as electromagnetic phenomena. E quivalence Principle The basic postulate of A. Einstein's general theory of relativity, which posits that an acceleration is fundamentally indistinguishable from a gravitational field. Faraday's Laws of electrolysis Faraday's first law of electrolysis The amount of chemical change during electrolysis is proportional to the charge passed.

Info Print Cite. Submit Feedback. Thank you for your feedback. See Article History. Top Questions. Ship: Hydrostatics. Learn More in these related Britannica articles:. Consider now a cube of side d totally immersed in liquid with its top and bottom faces horizontal.

Archimedes proved the conditions under which these solids will return to their…. This law of buoyancy determines not only the draft at which a vessel will float but also the angles that it….

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