[NetBehaviour] Accelerator Deciphers Archimedes
marc.garrett at furtherfield.org
Mon May 23 15:52:35 CEST 2005
*Accelerator Deciphers Archimedes *(Wired)
10:51 AM May. 22, 2005 PT
BALTIMORE -- A particle accelerator is revealing parts of the long-lost
writings of the Greek mathematician Archimedes, work hidden for
centuries after a Christian monk wrote over it during the Middle Ages.
Highly focused X-rays produced at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center
were used last week to begin deciphering sections of the 174-page text
that have not yet been revealed. The X-rays cause iron in the hidden ink
"One of the delightful things is we don't know what it's going to say,"
said William Noel, head of the Archimedes Palimpsest project at the
Walters Art Gallery.
Scholars believe the treatise was copied by a scribe in the 10th century
from Archimedes' original Greek scrolls, written in the third century
B.C. It was erased about 200 years later by a monk who reused the
parchment for a prayer book, creating a twice-used parchment book known
as a "palimpsest." In the 12th century, parchment -- scraped and dried
animal skins -- was rare and costly, and Archimedes' works were in less
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