13 May 2018

Trammel of Archimedes

One of the mechanisms used to draw an ellipse was the Trammel of Archimedes. Despite its name, no written document attesting to their authorship has been found to date. However, Archimedes was a brilliant mechanic and it is probable that he has found Ctesibius, the founder of the mechanical school of Alexandria. Archimedes, one of the greatest geniuses of his time, built mechanisms so much more complexes and sophisticated than the trammel.

In the applet below, click in the Start to begin the animation that shows the drawing of an ellipse. You can use the Stop button to stop the animation at any point. To see only the curve without the instruments used in its construction, remove the check from the box Show the quadrilateral and the line segment. To make another ellipse, click in the Erase the ellipse. You can modify the lenght of the line segment and also the minimum and maximum x-values and y-values.

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