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Download The Archimedes Codex: Revealing the Secrets of the World's Greatest Palimpsest epub

by William Noel,Reviel Netz




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.
Download The Archimedes Codex: Revealing the Secrets of the World's Greatest Palimpsest epub
ISBN: 0297645471
ISBN13: 978-0297645474
Category: History
Subcategory: Ancient Civilizations
Author: William Noel,Reviel Netz
Language: English
Publisher: Weidenfeld and Nicholson; 1st edition (2007)
Pages: 336 pages
ePUB size: 1334 kb
FB2 size: 1947 kb
Rating: 4.6
Votes: 364
Other Formats: mobi rtf rtf txt

Coiriel
Archimedes was one of the greatest mathematicians of all time, but many of his writings have long been lost to us. We've had some medieval translations of a few of his works, but nothing original. That is, until now. In 1998, a unique book went up for auction in New York: a 13th century prayer book, handwritten by some monk back in the day. But beneath the words that this monk copied were the words of Archimedes in their original Greek. The Archimedes Codex, by Reviel Netz and William Noel, tells the story of the purchase of this codex, and the nine year (and still ongoing) attempt to get as much of Archimedes original text from this document as possible. It's a fascinating work, alternating between the history of the codex and revealing what the codex says, and thus it's of alternating interest to the reader.

It's an interesting way to write a book, and since Math is not my area of interest, I found Noel's history a lot more interesting than Netz's math. However, Netz's enthusiasm about the entire project is quite infectious. He talks about Archimedes theories, how the study of mathematics changed from ancient times to more modern times, especially in light of what the Codex has revealed. One interesting thing Netz discusses is that the ancients did not use infinity as a mathematical object, but then he shows how Archimedes seems to approach the concept even though he never names it. The math is relatively easy to follow, though I did skim a large part of it. Netz provides plenty of diagrams as demonstration. Yes, mathematical writing can get dry at times, but Netz's enthusiasm for the project shines through in his prose, making these chapters a lot easier to read.

For me, though, the main area of interest in The Archimedes Codex is Noel's history. He does extensive investigations and theorizing into how the Codex came into being in Constantinople in the 6th century, what the monk who copied the book may have been thinking, and how the overwriting of ancient manuscripts generally occurred.

Along with the history, Noel provides a detailed account of the process put in place to reveal the hidden secrets of the Codex. This is impressive in itself, with numerous people putting in a lot of time and effort into imaging the text, coming up with ideas to make the text clearer and easier to read. We see the setbacks and disappointments, the points where Noel thought they wouldn't be able to go forward. Noel's passion for the Codex comes through almost as much as Netz's does, but Noel delves more into the problems that he has had to deal with.

The contributions of both authors make The Archimedes Codex what it is. While the math part can get a little slow at times, overall the topic is a fascinating one and both Netz and Noel are able to entice the reader to follow along with them on this unknown trail (whether mathematical or historical). Netz is almost giddy at times as something is revealed in the Codex.

This book is a definite must for any math fans out there, but it's also good for those with a more historical bent. You can get past the math with relative ease, and enjoy a historical search for the roots of book written over a thousand years ago. Whichever way you go, you can't go wrong with The Archimedes Codex.

David Roy
Qulcelat
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.

Mr. B, the anonymous but known purchaser of what remains of Codex C and the underwriter of the conservation and interpretative work, clearly needs to be recognized for his huge and essential financial contribution.
Does anyone know who Mr. B is?

The alternating chapters on the history and restoration of the manuscript and its mathematical content works wonderfully. Reviel Netz does a great job explaining the geometry and the significance of Archimedes' thought experiments.

The one minor issue I have is the tendency for overstatement. Netz may well be right that nobody before Archimedes (and even Newton) had the same type of thoughts - but the reality is that given the destruction of so many early manuscripts, we simply do not know. I also am less sure than Prof. Netz that Archimedes, the builder of catapaults and other engineering devices and an astronomer, didn't use the physical world to ground his mathematical ideas - thereby accounting for some of his brilliant mathematical ideas. For example, it is not hard to imagine that Archimedes might have been using his geometry to create a heliocentric model - why else the deep interest in parabolas? But then Prof. Netz like all good educators has motivated me to find other expositions of Archimedes and his science.

Regardless, this is a wonderful book, profusely illustrated with both color photographs and diagrams. The authors are also very gracious in acknowledging the work of literally dozens of experts. It will undoubtely inspire a host of fiction writers.
Arador
My viewing of the PBS video 'Ancient Computer', the story of research into the Antikythera Mechanism, let me to become interested in this recent publication about the discovery of the only extant writing that survives from the mathematical genius Archimedes of Syracuse.
It recounts the scientific detective work, recently completed by some of our greatest scientific minds and technologists, to decipher the only remaining writing from the Ancient World of Archimedes to have survived to the modern world. It was found 'over-written' on an obscure
Medieval vellum 'palimpsest book' that a priest-scribe had copied in 1229 AD, miraculously saving some of the thinking and secrets of the mathematician, Archimedes, perhaps the ancient world's greatest scientist.