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: 1762247
Published: 2007 Weidenfeld and Nicholson
Amazon price $30.00
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Amazon.co.uk info
Hardcover 320 pages  
ISBN: 0297645471
Salesrank: 398735
Weight:1.5 lbs
Published: 2007 W&N
Marketplace:New from £5.55:Used from £0.01
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Amazon.ca info
ISBN: 0297645471
Salesrank: 1074454
Weight:1.5 lbs
Published: 2007 Da Capo Press
Amazon price CDN$ 36.05
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Product Description
Part archaeological detective story, part science, and part history, The Archimedes Codex tells the astonishing story of a lost manuscript, from its tenth-century creation in ancient Constantinople to the auction block at Christie’s in New York, and how a team of scholars used the latest imaging technology to reveal and decipher the original text. What they found was the earliest surviving manuscript by Archimedes (287 BC–212 BC), the greatest mathematician of antiquity—a manuscript that established, for the first time, the extent of his mathematical genius, which was two thousand years ahead of modern science.