International Bath Day: Inspired by a Famed Scientific Concept Discovered While Bathing
Archimedes was a Greek mathematician, philosopher and inventor who wrote important works on geometry, arithmetic and mechanics yet one of his greatest accomplishments was discovered in the bath! It’s proven that many ideas and creative concepts happen in the bath.
Archimedes was born in Syracuse on the eastern coast of Sicily and educated in Alexandria, Egypt. After his education, he returned to Syracuse, where he spent the rest of his life devoting time to research, experimentation and discovery in a variety of fields.
In mechanics, he defined the principle of the lever and is credited with inventing the compound pulley and hydraulic screw which raises water from a lower to higher level. But of all his discoveries, Archimedes is most famous for discovering the law of hydrostatics, also known as Archimedes’ Principle which states that a body immersed in fluid loses weight equal to the weight of the amount of fluid it displaces. Archimedes made this discovery while in his bath and upon discovering this concept legend says that he exclaimed “Eureka!” and went running through the streets repeating the phrase he was so excited!
Because of this, International Bath Day on June 14 was created to commemorate the day Archimedes leapt out of the bathtub. How was the date determined? Ancient Greek legend says that it was exactly one week before the beginning of summer. The calendar in those days was astronomical and seasons were determined due to the 23.5-degree tilt of the Earth’s rotational axis in relation to its orbit around the sun. Summer began (then and today) on June 21 so a week before is June 14 thus the date.
Archimedes isn’t the only person who had his best revelation or idea in the bath. It turns out many of us come up with our best ideas while bathing or in the shower and it’s not just our perception, it’s been proven via research.
Cognitive scientist and coauthor of the book Wired to Create, Scott Barry Kaufman, conducted a study which revealed that 72% of people get creative ideas in the shower highlighting the importance of solitude and relaxation for generating creative thinking.
“The relaxing, solitary, and non-judgmental shower environment may afford creative thinking by allowing the mind to wander freely and causing people to be more open to their inner stream of consciousness and daydreams,” Kaufman said. He went on to say, “I’ve done some research on showering. We did a multinational study and found that people reported more creative inspiration in their showers than they did at work. That’s really telling about how we think and find creativity.”
Whether it’s a shower or a bath, how do you come up with your big idea? Kaufman suggests that you make time and room for solitude which can take many forms including a soothing bath. He says it’s important to “reconfigure your brain and get off the path that you have been working on the past hour or two. It could involve a daydreaming room that locks out the external noise” or a bath!
Just think, you could become the next Archimedes and have your very own “Eureka!” moment!