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John Adair's 100 Greatest Ideas for Smart Decision Making by John Adair

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Idea 13: Know your mind

Eureka (Greek heureka) means ‘I have found it’. Today we use it as an exclamation of delight at having made a discovery. Archimedes, the Greek mathematician and inventor, originally uttered it when he discovered how to test the purity of Hiero’s crown.

The story is that Hiero, the king of Syracuse, gave some gold to a smith to be made into a crown. On receiving it back, he felt its weight and his suspicions were aroused. Had the smith fraudulently alloyed it with an inferior metal? But he couldn’t prove anything. So he asked Archimedes to devise a test for its purity.

The philosopher did not know how to proceed. He gave the matter a great deal of thought, but still a solution eluded him. Then one morning he got into his ...

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