T H E   N I H    C A T A L Y S T    J U L Y  – A U G U S T    2005


If you have a photo or other graphic that reflects an aspect of life (including laboratory life) or a quotation that scientists mightappreciate that would be fit to print in the space to the right, why not

send it to us via e-mail:

<catalyst@nih.gov>; fax: 402-4303; or mail: Building 2, Room 2E26.

Also, we welcome "letters to the editor" for publication and your reactions to anything on the Catalyst pages.


In Future Issues...

Yoga Therapy

CRADA Country

More Bench to Bedside

The NIH Catalyst is published bi-monthly for and by the intramural scientists at NIH. Address correspondence to Building 2, Room 2E26, NIH, Bethesda, MD 20892. Ph: (301) 402-1449; fax: (301) 402-4303; e-mail: <catalyst@nih.gov>.

Kids' Catalyst: Worth Its Weight in Gold— Eureka: Part 1

One day about 2000 years ago, the Greek King Heiro wanted a new crown. So he weighed out some gold, gave it to his local crown-making craftsperson, and soon had a shiny new diadem. But something made King Heiro suspicious. Convinced he had been cheated out of some of his gold, he asked around for help on how to prove it.

The problem eventually came to a very clever guy named Archimedes (you’ll hear his name many times again in your travels!). Bright as he was, this one had him stumped. How to prove the crown wasn’t 100 percent gold? After days of contemplation, he finally took a break. What does a frustrated scientist do to relax? Take a bath.

Archimedes stepped into his tub and the very same thing happened then as would happen now if you got into a tub full of water: It would overflow. So with water spilling all over the place, the solution to the problem hit him. He was so excited that he was crying "Eureka!" (Greek for "I have found it") out the door, through the streets, and to the king. (In his glee, he apparently forgot his robe, guaranteeing that this would be the stuff of legend!)

So how did Archimedes figure it out? Here’s what he knew: the weight of the crown and what the crown was allegedly made from. He placed the crown into a vessel full of water to see how much water overflowed. Then he did the same with the same amount weight-wise of gold. Even though the crown was the same weight as the gold, it displaced a different amount of water. The king had his proof, the crown maker got his just reward, and Archimedes put his robe on.

Now you don’t need gold crowns lying around to test the volume of irregularly shaped objects, and you certainly don’t need anything more than a carefully-made scale to tell that two things shaped the same are made out of different materials.

Next issue we will take a bunch of pennies and prove that not all pennies are created equal using a surprisingly accurate home scale. Maybe you can work on that problem in the meantime, but here’s a hint: Compare U.S. pennies made before and after 1982. You’ll be surprised!

—Jennifer White


Michael Gottesman
Deputy Director for Intramural Research, OD

John I. Gallin
Director, NIH Clinical Center

Celia Hooper



Fran Pollner

Shauna Roberts

Aarthi Ashok
Annie Nguyen
Karen Ross
Jennifer White



Jorge Carrasquillo, CC
David Davies, NIDDK
Dale Graham, CIT
Hynda Kleinman, NIDCR
Elise Kohn, NCI
Susan Leitman, CC
Bernard Moss, NIAID
Michael Rogawski, NINDS
Joan Schwartz, NINDS
Gisela Storz, NICHD


Return to Table of Contents