Archimedes and the Door of Science

A Plumfield Kids Book Review by Greta Masarik, age 13

“Many things about Archimedes were unusual. His mind was never still, but always searching for something that could be added to the sum of things that were known in the world. No fact was unimportant; no problem was dull.” 

I don’t care for math or the history of most mathematicians. When I started this book for the first time, I expected a dry history of a man I didn’t necessarily care for who liked something I didn’t. I was wrong. Before I even finished the first chapter, I was captivated. Instead of being a dry history book, Archimedes and the Door of Science by Jeanne Bendick is alive and interesting. It is interactive with countless illustrations. From chapter four, Archimedes and His Lever, to about chapter twelve, The War Machines of Archimedes, there is at least one illustration on almost every page. A lot of them are diagrams explaining what you are reading.

Reading about Archimedes was fascinating! I learned to care about Archimedes–not only the man–but what he did for science and math.  

Like most people, I knew the story of Archimedes and King Hiero’s crown. I had learned how Archimedes figured out the problem at a public bath and how he famously ran through the streets of the Greek city-state Syracuse without any clothes on, yelling, “Eureka! I found it!” Who doesn’t know this story? Past that, all I knew about him was that he was very famous, a Greek, a mathematician, and a little about how he died. Not because I was never taught, but because I never cared to learn. This book made Archimedes come alive! 

As I read, I realized that I was becoming interested in all of his contributions to everyday life.  I found myself interested in all the inventions that have been used throughout the centuries. In some cases, we have better things now, but his early inventions were still influential in building the society we know today. For example, when Rome wanted to conquer the Greek city-state of Syracuse, Archimedes made many war engines to counter their attack. Rome tried and tried but was never able to find a way to counter the war engines. Rome did win the war with Syracuse, but only by taking them by surprise and by tragically killing Archimedes. His war machines were used for centuries after his death. I can only imagine what else he would have created if he lived longer.

“When such terror seized upon the Romans, that, if they did as much as see a little rope or a piece of wood from the wall, instantly crying out that there it was again, Archimedes was about to let fly some engine at them, they turned their backs and fled . . .” 

I have read Archimedes and the Door of Science three times. This book improves with every reading because each time I learn something new and I understand his math, science, and diagrams better. This book is even interesting to non-math and science lovers, like me! I am sure that people who do love math and science will find this book fascinating!