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Eureka (word) facts for kids

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Eureka is a Greek word meaning "I have found it". It is often used excitedly when there is a sudden discovery. It is the state motto of California.


Archimede bain
16th-century illustration of Archimedes in the bath, with Hiero's crown at bottom right

The exclamation "Eureka!" is attributed to the ancient Greek scholar Archimedes. He reportedly proclaimed "Eureka! Eureka!" after he had stepped into a bath and noticed that the water level rose, whereupon he suddenly understood that the volume of water displaced must be equal to the volume of the part of his body he had submerged. He then realized that the volume of irregular objects could be measured with precision, a previously intractable problem.

Names and mottos


The expression is also the state motto of California, referring to the momentous discovery of gold near Sutter's Mill in 1848. The California State Seal has included the word eureka since its original design by Robert S. Garnett in 1850; the official text from that time describing the seal states that this word's meaning applies "either to the principle involved in the admission of the State or the success of the miner at work". In 1957 the state legislature attempted to make "In God We Trust" the state motto as part of the same post WWII anti-Communist movement that successfully added the term "under God" to the American Pledge of Allegiance in 1954, but this attempt did not succeed and "Eureka" was made the official motto in 1963.

The city of Eureka, California, founded in 1850, uses the California State Seal as its official seal. Eureka is a considerable distance from Sutter's Mill, but was the jumping off point of a smaller gold rush in nearby Trinity County, California in 1850. It is the largest of at least eleven remaining US cities and towns named for the exclamation, "eureka!". As a result of the extensive use of the exclamation dating from 1849, there were nearly 40 locales so named by the 1880s in a nation that had none in the 1840s. Many places, works of culture, and other objects have since been named "Eureka"; see Eureka (disambiguation) for a list.


"Eureka" was also associated with a gold rush in Ballarat, Victoria, Australia. The Eureka Stockade was a revolt in 1854 by gold miners against unjust mining license fees and a brutal administration supervising the miners. The rebellion demonstrated the refusal of the workers to be dominated by unfair government and laws. The Eureka Stockade has often been referred to as the "birth of democracy" in Australia.


Another mathematician, Carl Friedrich Gauss, echoed Archimedes when in 1796 he wrote in his diary, "ΕΥΡΗΚΑ! num = Δ + Δ + Δ", referring to his discovery that any positive integer could be expressed as the sum of at most three triangular numbers. This result is now known as Gauss' Eureka theorem and is a special case of what later became known as the Fermat polygonal number theorem.

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Kids robot.svg In Spanish: ¡Eureka! para niños

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