Archimedes Screwed

As a kid, I said that if I ever had access to a time machine that I would return to the library at Alexandria and read all of the cool books they had there. I now realize that they all would have been Greek to me. (ahem.)

Through the magic of TV time travel, I watched last week's episode of Nova this week. It looks like the episode might have even been older than that, but it was the first time I had seen it, thus it was fresh. The show told the amazing story of how Archimedes developed the rudiments of calculus in 212 BC, and then it was lost until 1906. Which means, of course, that Newton and Leibniz had to reinvent that branch of math without the benefit of the guy who had done all the work 1800 years prior.

The show described in great detail how the last remaining copy of Archimedes great book had the ink scrubbed off the pages in order to create a copy of a prayer book. Since the rediscovery of this only known copy of the work, they have been trying new technologies to get at the remaining faint images of the original text. I liked it.

Even if you don't care much about geometry and calculus, you can take comfort in knowing that these are the same guys who invented Baklava, Sambuca, and Democracy. They can't be all bad.

qv: Nova

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About Phil Yanov

Phil Yanov is a Technologist, Columnist and Public Radio Commentator.

He is the founder of Tech After Five as well as the founder and President of the GSA Technology Council and the IT Leadership Council.

His personal technology column appears in Greenville Business Magazine and the Columbia Business Journal.

He co-hosts the Your Day technology shows heard on NPR radio stations across South Carolina and is a frequent contributor to technology stories appearing on radio and television.