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#1 2007-02-24 10:36:40

Patrick
Real Member
Registered: 2006-02-24
Posts: 1,005

Heureka!

Now this is cool! I'm a big fan of the history behind math and mathematicians. So this is just awesome if you ask me! http://www.berlingske.dk/viden/artikel:aid=866616 (I'm going to translate this)

A danish researcher must have felt like Indiana Jones in 1906. With a magnifying glass, he discovered that the hidden writings in a prayer book, in a monastery, were documents by the Greek mathematician Archimedes. The documents have showed up again, and they'll be published no later than 2008.

SANTA FE: Some scientists calls it the "most important scientific manuscript, which has ever been sold at an auction" but it doesn't show, if you don't know it.

The 348 pages are falling apart, severely attack by fungus, and at first sight the text doesn't look important, either. The book contains fire christian motives, painted by a con artist sometime in the 20. century, and furthermore it contains prayers and mass texts written in Constantantinople in 1229.

Pretty interresting, but not enough to pull out the superlatives.

But underneath it all, like the pea under twenty madrasses and twenty eitherdown quilt, hides the real high spot: Greek texts by the mathematician Archimedes and the politician Hyperides, and using new technology the scientists have been able to reveal most of the most of the documents, which will be published later this year or next year.

»The history concerning Archimedes and Hyperides will have to be rewritten,« says curator Will Noel at Walters Museum of Art in Baltimore, where the manuscript can be found.

And it's all because of a danish philologist and school manager.


John Ludvig Heiberg was head of the school Borger­dyds­skolen in Copenhagen, and later a professor of Greek studies at the University of Copenhagen. In the beginning of 1900 he was one of the biggest experts when it came to Archimedes. Heiberg was writing a ground-braking work on the Greek mathematician, and in 1906 he got a tip form a colleague: In a monastery in Istanbul - former Constantantinople - was an old book of prayers, but through the prayers you could catch a glimpse of mathematical formulæ and wordings, possibly by Archimedes.

Palimpsest

Researchers calls these texts written on top of old documents palimsests, and it is likely that monks in 1229 have tried to scrape the text off the old goat skin books, to use them for a more religious purpose.

Heibergs curiosity was awakened, and he adressed the monastery for permission to have the book sent to the university for examination, but was turned down. The danish researcher had enough Indiana Jones in him, to not take no for an answer though. He travelled to Istanbul. Armed with a magnifying glass a camera, he started to examine the book, and was the first to ever know the thrush: The text under the prayers, were the unique source to the latin translations, and Heiberg identified amongst others the original manuscript to the riddle Stomachion and his discoveries concerning lift force.

It was a sensation, because Archimedes was - and Archimedes is - one of the greatest mathematicians in history, and Heiberg could use this information to publish the complete work of the mathematician.

Last call

Heiberg died in 1928, and for the most of the 20. century, researched were looking for this book. Unsuccesfully.

... Okay, now I'm tired of this, sorry. I'm sure you'll be able to find many articles in international newspapers. The rest of the article's only about finding the document again. I am, for one, thrilled to see what the content is! WHY IS BALTIMORE SO FAR AWAY?!?


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