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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 www.archimedespalimsest.org

Amazon.com info
Hardcover 336 pages  
ISBN: 0297645471
Salesrank: 2324347
Weight:1.5 lbs
Published: 2007 Weidenfeld and Nicholson
Marketplace:New from $23.29:Used from $1.43
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Amazon.co.uk info
Hardcover 320 pages  
ISBN: 0297645471
Salesrank: 702429
Weight:1.5 lbs
Published: 2007 W&N
Marketplace:New from £6.40:Used from £0.01
Buy from Amazon.co.uk
Amazon.ca info
Hardcover
ISBN: 0297645471
Salesrank: 1066321
Weight:1.5 lbs
Published: 2007 Weidenfeld and Nicholson
Marketplace:New from CDN$ 49.86:Used from CDN$ 2.42
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Product Description
The story of the amazing discovery of Archimedes' lost works Drawings and writings by Archimedes, previously thought to have been destroyed, have been uncovered beneath the pages of a 13th-century monk's prayer book. These hidden texts, slowly being retrieved and deciphered by scientists, show that Archimedes' thinking (2,200 years ago) was even ahead of Isaac Newton in the 17th century. Archimedes discovered the value of Pi, he developed the theory of specific gravity and made steps towards the development of calculus. Everything we know about him comes from three manuscripts, two of which have disappeared. The third, currently in the Walters Art Museum, is a palimpsest - the text has been scraped off, the book taken apart and its parchment re-used, in this case as a prayer book. William Noel, the project director, and Reviel Netz, a historian of ancient mathematics, tell the enthralling story of the survival of that prayer book from 1229 to the present, and examine the process of recovering the invaluable text underneath as well as investigating into why that text is so important.