IF I were asked to describe the world today, I would say that it had hardly changed since 2,200 years ago when Archimedes, the Greek mathematician and physicist, bragged that he could move the world if only he had the lever to lift it. For all his ingenuity, I think he went way too far off in making that claim. He definitely couldn't have done that. This is because the world is an ovaloid sphere 12,760 km in diameter rotating on its axis in 23 hours, 56 minutes, and 4.09 seconds, and it is revolving around the sun. It has a mass in tons of about 5.98 x 10 raised to the 21st power and a volume in cubic meters of about 1.08 x 10 raised to the 21st power. That's simply too heavy, too massive, and too fast-moving for Archimedes to lift with a lever.

Despite his overarching audacity, Archimedes was understandably not in a position to know during his time those attributes of the world. It was, in fact, only 1,750 years later that the Polish astronomer and polymath Nicolaus Copernicus, after long and sustained observation, concluded that Earth wasn't the center of the universe but was just one of the planets orbiting the bigger — and he thought stationary — sun. But on this, even Copernicus himself was only partly right. Centuries later, in the early 1600s, the Italian astronomer-mathematician Galileo Galilee demonstrated that the sun wasn't stationary in the heavens at all. It was rotating on its own axis in a perpetually moving spiral arm of the galaxy that we now call the Milky Way.

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