[NetBehaviour] Accelerator Deciphers Archimedes

marc 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 
to glow.

"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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