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The Discovery of The Exclamation “Eureka!”

The Discovery of The Exclamation “Eureka!”

Eureka is a word that was more common in the past but it’s still relevant nowadays. The expression is mostly used to express triumph especially as a result of a discovery or brilliant intuition. In 1963, Eureka became also the State motto of California. “Eureka” itself is a very old expression that has a very precise origin connected with an ancient Discovery.

The First Eureka!

The word Eureka comes from ancient Greek and means “I have found it”. Archimedes, an Ancient Greek scientist and mathematician born in Syracuse (Sicily) allegedly yelled the word “Eureka!” overjoyed after taking a bath. It was not his feeling of cleanliness or comfort that brought on this expression, but noticing how volume of objects could be measured by immersing them in water. He noticed that the water would rise the exact amount of the submerged object, or in this case person. This might seem simple and obvious, but until them measuring the volume of irregular object with precision proved impossible.

Records of The First Eureka!

The story was first told by Marcus Vitruvius Pollio a Roman architect and military engineer. In his books of Architecture written two centuries after the event happened. He specifically recounts Archimedes’ experiment and the exclamation of joy upon his discovery. Some scholars have doubts on the reliability of the story but it is for the most part accepted.

Gold and Eureka!

Archimedes discovery, perfected 1,800 later by Galileo, allowed also to determine the purity of gold. Thus the term Eureka became often associated with the discovery of a new gold source becoming very popular in California and Australia. Eureka was chosen as the motto of California in 1964 and the same terminology was used in Australia during the Ballarat gold rush leading to the “Eureka Revolt”, a revolt of miners protesting high license fees.


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