Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Archimedes Codex

Archimedes was a very cool dude. When you think of inventor/intellectuals these days, we have been trained to imagine a fairly wimpy, bookish kind of person. Not so for Archie, he was also a bad-ass who defended his beloved city of Syracuse to the death at the hands of Roman invaders. Archimedes invented what for the day, were some freaky advanced technologies.

Well, new information has been discovered about him, thanks to the painstaking work by Will Noel at the Walters Art Museum of New York. A dilapidated tome that was recycled by a 13th century monk, has turned out to contain a treasure trove of amazing information regarding this famous but actually little-known giant.

The Christian Science Monitor has a fascinating article about it. Here is a taste:

Most significant among the discoveries was the knowledge that "Archimedes was the first to calculate with actual infinity in the mathematics of the West." That is to say, he was operating at an intellectual level that didn't become common in the mathematical world until the 17th century, nearly 2,000 years after his time. The Archimedean texts, Noel writes, make the mathematics of Leonardo da Vinci "look like child's play."

The CS Monitor article is fun, and a short read. I really recommend it, if you want to get a sense of the "Original Hacker" was all about.

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