Archive for May 3rd, 2013

May 3, 2013

Eureka Effect


The Eureka effect, also known as the ‘aha! effect,’ refers to the common human experience of suddenly understanding a previously incomprehensible problem or concept. The Eureka effect is named after the myth that the Greek polymath Archimedes, having discovered how to measure the volume of an irregular object, leaped out of a public bath, and ran home naked shouting ‘eureka’ (‘I found it’). Archimedes was asked by the local king to detect whether a crown was pure gold, or if the goldsmith had added silver.

During his trip to the public bath, he noticed that water is displaced when his body sinks into the bath, and that the volume of water displaced equals the volume of the body immersed in the water. This means that he can measure the density of the crown, and compare it to a bar of pure gold. This story is thought to be a myth, because it was first mentioned by the Roman writer Vitruvius nearly 200 years later, and because the method described by Vitruvius would have been inaccurate.

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