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William Noel

The Archimedes Codex

In 1998 a mystery buyer paid over $2000000 for a very important book. There were fears that this would mean a return to the obscurity it had suffered for most of the previous century. The Archimedes Codex: Revealing The Secrets Of The World's Greatest Palimpsest tells how this did not happen. William Noel explains how he had the task of extracting information from this document. It seemed like a hopeless task: the copy of Archimedes work had been scraped of and replaced by a prayer book, what remained had been examined in detail in 1906, and the book had suffered serious deterioration since that time. Despite these problems Noel tells how modern scientific techniques have found out much that is new about Archimedes.

The other author Rievel Netz, gives an explanation of the some of the mathematics found in the codex. Netz can be a bit long-winded at times, but he does give some feeling for the excitement he felt when he saw the possibility of finding previously unknown material, for example how Archimedes may have used calculus nearly two millennia before Leibniz and Newton.

Overall this book is a fascinating read, does not require any prior knowledge, and is recommended to anyone with an interest in the links between the modern and ancient worlds.

Note: more material on this project, including images from the codex itself, can be found at info
Hardcover 336 pages  
ISBN: 0297645471
Salesrank: 2590922
Published: 2007 Weidenfeld and Nicholson
Amazon price $29.89
Marketplace:New from $19.80:Used from $2.21
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Hardcover 320 pages  
ISBN: 0297645471
Salesrank: 690184
Weight:1.5 lbs
Published: 2007 W&N
Marketplace:New from £36.91:Used from £0.01
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ISBN: 0297645471
Salesrank: 1169616
Weight:1.5 lbs
Published: 2007 Da Capo Press
Amazon price CDN$ 82.84
Marketplace:New from CDN$ 82.39:Used from CDN$ 2.51
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Product Description
From Review - Reviel Netz and William Noel have given us a well written, immensely informative and hugely entertaining glimpse into the world of Archimedes, mathematical thinking, antiquarian book collecting, manuscript conservation and, above all, puzzle solving. Puzzle solving that is dependent on the mind-boggling expertise of linguists, classicists, mathematicians, chemists, computer scientists and imaging experts.