Archimedes' Bath Day
Other Scottish Country Dances for this Day
Today's Musings, History & Folklore
"One is never alone with a rubber duck."
~Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, 1979
Legend has it that on this day in the 3rd century BCE, Greek mathematician, scientist and scholar, Archimedes, discovered while taking a bath that an object’s volume could be accurately measured by its displacement of water. Unable to contain his excitement, Archimedes leapt out of the bathtub and yelled, “Eureka, Eureka!” as he ran through the streets of Syracuse, Greece. Since its invention in 1940, millions of children and adults have tested this same phenomenon with the rubber duck, a bath toy so popular that today, hundreds of rubber duck races are held (usually as fundraising events) in the USA and internationally.
Duckies in the Bath
June 14 celebrates the day the ancient Greek scholar Archimedes jumped out of his bathtub shouting, "Eureka, Eureka!" ("I have found it!") in the 3rd century BCE.
Legend has it that on this day Greek mathematician, scientist and scholar, Archimedes, discovered while taking a bath that an object’s volume could be accurately measured by its displacement of water. Unable to contain his excitement, Archimedes leapt out of the bathtub and yelled, “Eureka, Eureka!” as he ran through the streets of Syracuse, Greece.
Archimedes' insight led to the solution of a problem posed by Hiero of Syracuse - how to assess the purity of an irregular golden votive crown. Suspecting his goldsmith of cheating by removing gold and adding the same weight of silver for his crown, there was no easy way to determine the purity. Although equipment for weighing objects with a fair amount of precision existed, Archimedes' discovery allowed the measurement of volume, the ratio of which would give the object's density, an important indicator of purity (as gold is nearly twice as dense as silver and has significantly greater weight for the same volume).
Rubber ducks as a bath time plaything were created by sculptor Peter Ganine in the 1940s. Rubber duck races, also known as derby duck races, have been used as a method of fundraising for organizations worldwide. There are hundreds of races held in the USA and internationally.
The World’s Largest Rubber Duck, designed by Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman, was created in 2007 to inspire locals and tourists to explore and enjoy waterfront festivals around the world. Several ducks have been created of various sizes and tour the world's waterfronts.
For the North American schedule of one touring duck, click the 61 ft duck on its stop in Buffalo, New York in 2016.