Walters researchers decode the secrets of the Archimedes Palimpsest

Of Archimedes, he who allegedly popularized the word “Eureka!”:

“His cleverness is beautiful. Understanding Archimedes is like understanding the most elegant joke in the world.”

The researchers paid their respects to the 10th-century scribe who copied down works by Archimedes of lasting importance. The palimpsest contains the only version of “On Floating Islands” in Greek — the mathematician’s native tongue. And it contains the only original versions anywhere of his “Method of Mechanical Theorems” and “The Stomachion.”

Surprisingly, Noel sympathizes with Johannes Myrones, the monk who found himself distressingly short of new parchment on April 13, 1229, after Constantinople was sacked by crusaders. It was Myrones who scraped away Archimedes’ original writing and converted the used parchment into a religious text.

“If the palimpsest hadn’t been converted into a prayer book, it wouldn’t have survived for more than 700 years,” Noel says. “It survived because it was used.”

via Walters researchers decode the secrets of the Archimedes Palimpsest – baltimoresun.com.