"There are things which seem like miracles to men who have not studied mathematics." - Archimedes
I'm a big fan of Archimedes. His early mathematical proofs, such as estimating the radius of the Earth and discovering the properties of density and buoyancy, were ingenious, astonishingly accurate, and insightful. And if scholarly pursuits like that don't get your blood racing, how about this: he is said to have been personally instrumental in staving off Roman attacks, setting fire to ships, building great traps for invaders, and improving catapult technology. Oh, and he demonstrated to his king the power of the pulley by lifting an entire ship, complete with crew and cargo, by pulling on a single rope, saying, "Give me a place to stand, and I can move the Earth."
So it is that the story of the Archimedes Palimpsest continues to fascinate me. It's got so many of the elements that resonate with me:
- Archimedes, and his brilliance in Mathematics
- communication of Mathematics
- the loss of knowledge to the sands of time
- the historical hostility of organized religion to truth and knowledge
- interesting details of historic publishing, illumination, and papercraft
- alert bibliophiles rediscovering important texts thought to be lost
- philanthropists that do great works and remain anonymous
- using science to reconnect with truths once known but lost
- ...and irony.