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.