The Archimedes Codex: the Many Layers of the World’s Greatest Palimpsest
The Archimedes Palimpsest is a 13th century Greek prayerbook in which, just barely visible, one can see traces of what, it turns out, is the oldest surviving evidence for the works of Archimedes. Sold in auction, 8 years ago, for 2 million dollars, this unique manuscript has been the subject of an intensive collaborative project, involving both scientists and scholars from around the world. How did the works of Archimedes get buried so deep? What did we find as we uncovered them? The talk leads through three major breakthroughs, based on UV-Light, Multispectral Imaging, and X-Ray Fluorescence – revealing Archimedes’ surprising insight into both finite and infinite methods (which, ultimately, underlie the techniques used in deciphering him).
Reviel Netz is Professor of Classics at Stanford. He publishes with Cambridge the first full-fledged English translation of the works of Archimedes (Vol. 1 of this 3-volume publication was published in 2004), and, with Nigel Wilson, he co-edits the Archimedes Palimpsest.
His many publications touch on various aspects of ancient mathematics as a cognitive and aesthetic system (e.g. The Shaping of Deduction in Greek Mathematics: a Study in Cognitive History, Cambridge 1999, Ludic Proof: Greek Mathematics and the Alexandrian Aesthetic, Cambridge in Press).
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