What are you talking about? – Archimedes and latest technology invention in the same breath? For those not in the know – Archimedes was the ancient Greek’s most famous mathematician. He was the one who ran through the streets naked yelling “Eureka” (I have found it) when he solved a very important problem while sitting in his bath.
The latest technology invention is this – taking what most probably the latest and using it in a new way. Archimedes had scribed some of his theories on goat parchment somewhere between 287-212 B.C. Amazingly, this parchment has lived on – and in the middle ages a Monk scraped the papyrus and OVERWROTE Archimedes’ writings – (which was probably the best thing to happen – because the writings lived on (covered over) as a Christian prayer book – thus not subject to destruction by anti-science thinkers of the Dark Ages and beyond).
Without getting into the whole story – the manuscript has lived on to this day – where it was purchased at auction for about 2 million dollars, and then very graciously turned over to classicists and old book restorers. It was found that the prayer book had been written over some other writing.
Here is where the latest technology invention comes in. The experts were having trouble reading the underlying script, naturally. A physicist that worked with the Stanford Synchotron Radiation Laboratory – which runs the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center – just happened to get some info on the Archimedes project while at a conference.
This physicist studies spinach! His latest technology invention was studying how determine iron and other elements in spinach. He – through the info he received – found that the ink used by Archimedes would have iron as a base.
The next step was to contact the classicists and restorers of the manuscript and suggest using his tools (the Stanford accelerator) to scan the book like he did his spinach – and the iron content in the ink should stand out (even through the overwriting).
After over four years of preparation – the use of this latest technology invention was accomplished. The scanning of the document is being done as we speak [beginning August 4, 2006]. The results are pretty amazing – and are available online and with a webcam.
This is one of the first instances where classicists and language scholars and physicists (nuclear and other) have worked together on a project such as this. The concept is mind-boggling – two such diverse fields working together to bring one of mankind’s greatest minds back to life with his writings – which have been buried beneath prayers for thousand of years. This is truly a fascinating use of the latest technology invention.