Sailing Ships and Firm Ground: Archimedean Points and Platforms


It is tempting to see in the life of Archimedes an event that could serve as a foundational moment to the myth of the Archimedean point, where the promised firm point from which to move the earth is itself given a basis and physical context for exposition. As earthbound as Archimedes himself, this foundation is not celestial – not a point in the far reaches of space – but rather terrestrial in nature, located in proximity to the border of land and sea. It is the moment when Archimedes the mathematician launches a half-built ship with the aid of one of his inventions. Further details and further interpretations are open to debate.

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