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Archimedes 
Archimedes also invented the Archimedes screw, an ingenious method of pumping water and a way to calculate the volume of a sphere and the area under a parabola. The Eurekasayer, in fact, was the major mathematical mind of the ancient world. Richard Askey, a professor of mathematics at University of WisconsinMadison, ranks him with the three giants of mathematics  in the lofty company of Isaac Newton and Carl Friedrich Gauss. A
dead letter Most of the parties involved refused to discuss the matter with us, saying that the news had been released "prematurely" by someone in Rochester, where part of the reconstruction is being done. But here's what we've pieced together.
Howto? The book was moldy and decrepit, says Kirsten Lavin, public relations coordinator at Walters, so the institution, which has restored other ancient books, was a logical place to seek help. Walters, in turn, asked the Rochester Institute of Technology and Johns Hopkins University to each restore a few pages. The RIT folks are concentrating on digital image processing, while the Hopkins group is using light to extract information.
The technique is to expose the text to longwavelength ultraviolet light. That boosts electrons in atoms in the parchment into higher orbits. When the electrons fall back to their original orbits, photons  particles of light  are emitted. The photons are filtered, allowing only a narrow range of blue light to reach a digital sensor. You see the results of this work at the top of the page. After the two competing teams produce their results, the Walker will decide which one  or perhaps both  will get to decode the rest of the book. And if the material indeed turns out to be the work of the master, it could have significance for math. Archimedes was, after all, so brilliant that it took almost 2,000 years for other mathematicians to catch up with him. This early recycling project may have desecrated other kinds of works  perhaps even fascinating stuff like laundry lists, ancient tax rolls, or other ancient writing.  David Tenenbaum 



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