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back to article Move over, Mythbusters: Was Archimedes an ancient STEVE JOBS?

Happy birthday Archimedes! The Syracusan mathematician, engineer and philosopher came into the world in 287BC. We don't know the exact date of his birth 2,300 years ago, but an appreciation of the twenty-third centenary of his birth seems apt. An engraving from 1824 edition of Mechanics Magazine. Source:Wikimedia (public domain …

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Trollface

Uh... No.

If Archimedes was an ancient Steve Jobs, all of his accomplishments would be based on other peoples work.

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Re: Uh... No.

they are

"Archimedes is also said to have devised a giant crossbow of some sort, to further harry the Roman fleet."

that would be a ballista then... as invented by dionysus

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Mushroom

Re: Uh... No.

so, he was an ancient Thomas Edison then...

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Facepalm

Re: Uh... No.

But the one Archimedes created was unique in the sense it had rounded corners.

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Re: Uh... No.

thanks - the drones here all just gave me funny looks for laughing for no apparent reason

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Re: Uh... No.

Except that the key technology of the Ballista, the sliding rack system and pawl for priming, was invented for the earlier "gastrophetes" or "belly bow". The ratchet system for priming means that priming is accomplished by compressing the device (gastrophetes) or with the use of a winding mechanism on the ratchet slide (ballista), rather than by pulling the string back as in all previous devices. The string is already nocked in the trigger mechanism before priming begins. That mechanical advantage allows for a weapon of far greater power than a conventional bow.

The enhancement in the Ballista is to exploit this priming ratchet and enhance the power by swapping the bow arms for torsion bars.

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Facepalm

Re: Uh... No.

"so, he was an ancient Thomas Edison then..."

Uh... No.

If Archimedes was an ancient Thomas Edison, all of his accomplishments would be based on other peoples work.

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Re: Uh... No.

You 8are* familiar with the term "standing on the shoulders of giants", right? Afterall, Einstein's work was just an advancement of men like Mach, Michealson, Morley, Maxwell, and others whose last names did not begin with M.

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Facepalm

Re: Uh... No.

"that would be a ballista then... as invented by dionysus"

Dionysus was a bureaucrat and a tyrant. When have you ever seen them invent anything?

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Anonymous Coward

I have heard Archimedes called many things but I've never heard him called a thief.

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Anonymous Coward

a thief?

Since when was developing ideas further, stealing? In that case, we are all accomplices every time we use any form of wheel other than a random, conveninetly shaped log.

Is every idea of yours entirely original? Are we condemned to use only the very first version of anything or be branded "thieves"?

I can not see that a person with the vision, intelligence and energy to accept, develop and drive forwards an idea, whether their own or another's, is any less useful or honest than the one who had the original idea. I suspect that, without those "standing on the shoulders of giants" (most of whom built on those before them) we would be rather a long way backwards in the stage of prehistory still. Did you ever use a pencil, or a pen, or paper? Should none of those have been made because the original idea was based on lines in sand or wood by someone who never gave their permission to develop it into modern writing instruments?

Back to your cave please (oh, perhaps not, whose idea was it to use caves?).. With such a way of thinking, there would be no computing (Linux is a "stolen" idea, not just from UNIX and Minix, that themselves were "stolen" from Multics and other roots, that in turn came from ... from the Tote in Haringey used for gambling on greyhounds ......

Be grateful to Gates, Jobs, Watson, Turing and all those others who recognised good ideas and developed them or simply recognised their value and made them practical, desirable and affordable. This too requires some form of "genius", hard work, imagination.

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Re: a thief?

Developing ideas is one thing...

...patenting the hell out of them afterwards so that it appears you "invented" them is another...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: a thief? @AC 10:23

Wow. Quite the diatribe - touched a nerve, did he? Your programming career based entirely on cut and paste or something?

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Re: a thief?

I can not see that a person with the vision, intelligence and energy to accept, develop and drive forwards an idea, whether their own or another's, is any less useful or honest than the one who had the original idea. I suspect that, without those "standing on the shoulders of giants" (most of whom built on those before them) we would be rather a long way backwards in the stage of prehistory still. Did you ever use a pencil, or a pen, or paper? Should none of those have been made because the original idea was based on lines in sand or wood by someone who never gave their permission to develop it into modern writing instruments?

Where your argument falls flat on it's face, is that it ignores the issue of patents. Is it stealing to develop based on someone elses idea? No.

Is it right, though, that you could take an existing idea, modify it slightly and then add a patent to stop anyone else using anything remotely similar?

Not sure stealing/thievery is the right word, anyway, but trolling aside I've a feeling the OP was probably referring more to the 'we invented it' attitude Apple seem to take to anything they release

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Flame

Re: a thief?

As Sir Isaac said "If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants."

Henceforth no one may use the Calculus unless attribution to Sir Isaac is made? As there is nothing new under the sun, can nothing be patented?

I suspect all the whinging about patents is by people who never invented anything.

Fire is a perfect example. Nothing requiring heat treatment may be patented.

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Re: a thief?

Actually Newton wrote that as a slam on Robert Hooke in their battle over the nature of light. There are a number of people that think that Newton may have (ahem) appropriated some of Hooke's ideas.

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Happy

Re: a thief?

To reiterate: there is nothing new under the sun.

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Happy

Re: a thief?

Newton and Hooke. Now there were a pair of cheerful, co-operative chaps with cool tempers...

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This post has been deleted by its author

Re: a thief?

Listing Jobs alongside Alan Turing? Oh come on ...

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Boffin

Let us not forget the Perfumed Garden

Wherein one discovers in chapter 6, advertised as performed in India, El loulabi, the screw of Archimedes.

Along with the necessary instructions, of course.

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FAIL

Re: Let us not forget the Perfumed Garden

...and a non industry standard connector.

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Paris Hilton

...and a non industry standard connector.

The big innovation of the the Lightning connector is that it fits either way round. For some reason I was moved to share that.

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Thumb Up

Re: ...and a non industry standard connector.

"The big innovation of the the Lightning connector is that it fits either way round."

Sort of like a bathroom electric shaver plug and socket?

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Re: ...and a non industry standard connector.

"The big innovation of the the Lightning connector is that it fits either way round."

The previous connector had a massive design flaw: it didn't fit either way round. Is it really 'innovation' to fix a mistake?

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Joke

Eureka!

And you don't smell so good yourself!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Eureka!

"Eureka" actually means "Change your shirt".

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Joke

Re: Eureka!

So that's why he was running down the street: his landlady had had enough of the pong.

"Eureka! Eureka! I'll change my shirt! And my pants! What do you think of it now?"

(Do I feel bad at portraying someone great as a petulant adolescent? Only a very little.)

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WTF?

Oh dear...

The only thing Archimedes and Steve Jobs have in common is the fact that they are both dead, and perhaps both through stubbornness in their thinking habits although in the case of the genius he would no doubt have died by now anyways.

As the article mentioned Archimedes was introduced to his demise by refusing to loose himself from his intense pondering of things more important to him than the mere frivolity of civil order, which he no doubt held in contempt due to it being that imposed by an invading force.

Of course it is highly likely that Steve Jobs may have survived his particular ailment if he didn't refuse the best scientific and medical treatment that was obviously available to him at an earlier stage. Why he would refuse such things is only for him to know, but certainly couldn't seriously be considered reasoned thinking. Certainly it was contemptuous in the least of the efforts of many in the field of medicine.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Oh dear...

You mean that we are all obliged to use (given we have the access and money) to respect "the efforts of many in the field of medicine" irrespective of our own wishes, beliefs or scepticism and that this shoudl be a punishable offence (until the next best efforts bring forth another theory).

Very liberal and modern thinking.

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Re: Oh dear...

I meant no such thing.

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Re: Oh dear...

"You mean that we are all obliged to use (given we have the access and money) to respect "the efforts of many in the field of medicine" irrespective of our own wishes, beliefs or scepticism and that this shoudl be a punishable offence (until the next best efforts bring forth another theory)."

That's a very half-witted interpretation of the original post. It's always interesting, and occasionally somewhat amusing, to see someone with some not-too-profound idea in their not-too-voluminous head who feels absolutely compelled to give that idea a not-too-timely airing irrespective of the lack of legitimate opportunity to do so - and who doesn't mind having the not-too-advanced state of their reading comprehension displayed for all to see.

What he meant, I think, was something along the lines of "we are all obliged to use (given we have the access and money) to respect 'the efforts of many in the field of medicine' irrespective of our own wishes, beliefs or scepticism if we want to remain alive".

No one said that you have to live. And ending up dead for one's stupidity is kind of its own punishment (or, richly-deserved reward.)

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Re: Oh dear...

>What he meant, I think,...

I would like to clarify my thinking, and in doing so do not wish to suggest that you are incorrect in your interpretation...

It is not so much that we are obliged but are, I believe, privileged to live in a time (past the Age Of Enlightenment let us not forget) where reason and science have provided us with many opportunities to outlive the many possible fatal instruments of nature which would otherwise bring about the untimely demise of our precious lives.

Perhaps it is an obligation therefore to prolong these lives, but that is one for greater philosophers and dead people to debate.

Belief is a very powerful force. It gave us the iPhone, the pyramids, nuclear power, the Holocaust, the Crusades, 9/11, the eradication of smallpox, American Pop Idols Got Talent Get Me Out Of Here, the Internet, and lots of other terrific (both current and archaic definitions) things that we can experience. Everybody is welcome to believe what they wish, and of course this is exactly what they do. It just so happens that some people believe in reality and others, well... that's why evolution is essentially the epitome of hacking.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Oh dear... @Turtle

"It's always interesting, and occasionally somewhat amusing, to see someone with some not-too-profound idea in their not-too-voluminous head who feels absolutely compelled to give that idea a not-too-timely airing irrespective of the lack of legitimate opportunity to do so - and who doesn't mind having the not-too-advanced state of their reading comprehension displayed for all to see."

Interesting how mention of the old guys brings out pretention. I like HP Lovecraft's stories, and your writing style makes *me* wince. Well, and what it implies about your personality too :)

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Re: Oh dear... @Turtle

"Interesting how mention of the old guys brings out pretention. I like HP Lovecraft's stories, and your writing style makes *me* wince. Well, and what it implies about your personality too :)"

I realize that that's not intended as a compliment... but thanks!

: )

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Re: Oh dear...

Jobs the frutarian refused proper medicine because he knew what a real doctor, who had been to college and everything, would have said when they found out about his ridiculous diet.

'It will kill you one day, and sooner rather than later' (with an optional 'you stupid arrogant twat')

The RDF protected him from this :-S

however the RDF proved inefective against his stupid arrogant twattery.

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Re: Oh dear...

given that the stupid pricks wishes, beliefs or scepticism caused his death....

duhh!

yes!

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Re: Oh dear...

Supposedly Socrates had a sudden interestingly philosophical thought in the middle of a battle, and stopped to think about it for the rest of the afternoon. Which, surprisingly, didn't get him killed. Can't remember where I saw that now, but I think it must have been Thucydides. If he had been killed, it might have saved me from having to read all that Plato at school.

Once Hannibal had got his elephants over the Alps, he said, "I love it when a plan comes together."

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Re: Oh dear...

He punished himself out of existence.. so there is no need to punish him (or way...)

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water power

water powered flour mills and saw mills seemed to be pretty common throughout the Roman Empire. We constantly underestimate the ancients and doubt contemporary authors. Pliny the Younger' s description of the pyroclastic flow at Pompeii in 79AD was thought to be cobblers until quite recently.

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Re: water power

Indeed ... the recent excavations in London have demonstrated that the Romans management of water was not to be equalled until Victorian London.

If you like your history and engineering, there's a cracking Time Team special about an experiment to recreate an amazing piece of machinery found in London - unknown anywhere else in the Roman Empire. It was a conveyor belt of buckets powered by animals.

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2299th birthday, surely?

I always thought the year before 1AD was 1BC. Some years (that I wish I could forget) spent debugging other people's Fortran 77 makes me particularly sensitive to this kind of thing.

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Joke

Re: 2299th birthday, surely?

Or was it Fortran 76?

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Re: 2299th birthday, surely?

Yes you are right.

IIRC that's because there's no zero in the Roman numeric system.

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Re: 2299th birthday, surely?

Worse than that, how many days are in the year you are calculating? We've been through a number of major changes, some of them more recently than most of us think. For instance was George Washington born on February 11 or February 22?

http://www.archives.gov/legislative/features/washington/

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Boffin

Re: 2299th birthday, surely?

"Worse than that, how many days are in the year you are calculating?"

Irrelevant. If Archimedes was born about 25 days after the spring equinox, and the earth has orbited the sun 2299 times since then, then that is 2299 years ago.

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Pythagoras

If we are to compare famous ancient people with Steve Jobs, then I reckon that Pythagoras would be a better example.

What is commonly attributed to Pythagoras is more than likely the results of work from his school or already existing common knowledge. In contrast to Apple and her devotees Pythagoras demanded an almost religious zeal from his followers.

However, instead of finding an ancient SJ, I rather find a latter day Socrates [1]. Now, that'd be fun.

[1] To quote scripture: A lovely little thinker but a bugger when he's pissed.

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Trollface

No Steve Jobs

There are no historical sources showing Archimedes to be a c*nt

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Re: No Steve Jobs

I bet Marcellus would disagree.

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"You keep usinig that word. I do not think it means what you think it means!"

"You keep usinig that word. I do not think it means what you think it means!"

in•no•vate (ˈɪn əˌveɪt)

v. -vat•ed, -vat•ing. v.i.

1. to introduce something new; make changes (often fol. by on or in): to

innovate on another's creation.

v.t.

2. to introduce (something new): to innovate a computer operating system.

3. Archaic. to alter.

[1540–50; < Latin innovāre to renew, alter =in- in-2 + novāre to revew, v. derivative of novus new]

in′no•va`tor, n.

in′no•va•to`ry (-vəˌtɔr i, -ˌtoʊr i) adj.

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