In the midst of the Covid19 pandemic, as we were all stuck at home and practicing self-quarantine (and the excessive eating and web surfing), it was a very good time to study and to seek self-improvement.

Thanks to a very passionate fellow Engineer who shared an awesome website (Springer) which offered more than 400 e-book titles for free, I managed to download a book titled “An Introduction to Soil Mechanics” authored by Professor Arnold Verrujit. The book is an easy read and I highly recommend it to Engineers who wish to study or revisit soil mechanics from time to time.

When it came to his explanation of the density of soil, he shared a very interesting tale which, in turn, I wish to share here.

Photo: Archimedes in a bathtub. (Image from wikipedia)

The great Archimedes, was tasked with proving that a new crown made for the King of Syracuse, was not pure gold as the goldsmith had claimed.

Archimedes realized that this could be achieved by comparing the density of the crown with the density of a piece of pure gold (silver is lighter than gold). However, to do so, he had to determine the precise volume of the crown.

He thought long and hard on how to do it, and it finally struck him when he stepped into his bath one day. He observed that the water displaced equals the volume of the body submerged, whatever the shape.

He was so excited of this discovery that he forgot that he was undressed and ran down the streets naked from his home to the king while shouting “Eureka!” which means “I found it” in Ancient Greek. (Needless to say, Archimedes has gone down in history as the guy who ran naked through the streets of Syracuse and made the term “Eureka” popular).

This, is how the Archimedes principle was coined.