A Faustian Bargain?

Illustration: A.Canamucio When I look back on my life and attempt to understand the factors that influenced my decision to become a scientist, two stories inevitably come to mind. The first, which I remember reading when I was in grade school, is the famous story of Archimedes figuring out, while he was immersed in a bathtub, a method by which he could determine whether or not the king's crown was truly made of gold. The image that stays vividly in my mind is that of Archimedes jumping out of hi

Tv Rajan
May 14, 2000

Illustration: A.Canamucio
When I look back on my life and attempt to understand the factors that influenced my decision to become a scientist, two stories inevitably come to mind. The first, which I remember reading when I was in grade school, is the famous story of Archimedes figuring out, while he was immersed in a bathtub, a method by which he could determine whether or not the king's crown was truly made of gold. The image that stays vividly in my mind is that of Archimedes jumping out of his bathtub, stark naked (dripping water and soap no doubt; did they have soap then?), and running through the streets of Athens shouting, "Eureka!"

I suspect, as is probably true of events that took place so long ago that reality has been embellished and almost unrecognizably altered by the retelling, that this story is apocryphal. Nonetheless, it has always exercised a...

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