Archimedes established the science of statics. He discovered the law of the lever, that unequal weights are in equilibrium when their distances (from the fulcrum) are inversely proportional to their weights; he developed the idea of center of gravity, and discovered rules concerning it; and he discovered the laws of floating and immersed bodies, including the so-called principle of Archimedes, which enabled him, as the story goes, by weighing Hiero’s crown in air and then in water, to detect that the goldsmith had debased the metal. This work of Archimedes, together with his remarkable mathematical feats, marks him as one of the mightiest of human intellects, fully worthy of a place among the greatest of the Greeks.

But, in spite of Archimedes, it was in fragmentary and disjointed form that the physical science of antiquity was transmitted without important change through the Middle Ages to the Modern World. We have already seen somewhat of the additions which the seventeenth century contributed, especially in dynamics, from Galileo to Newton. It does not appear that, apart from the chemical work of Lavoisier, the eighteenth century provided much of the very highest novelty and value in this field. Perhaps the researches of two Americans, Benjamin Franklin and Benjamin Thompson, who became Count Rumford, in electricity and in heat respectively, are among the best which the century affords, as they are at the summit of all American scientific work.

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