Particle accelerator reveals long-lost writings of Archimedes

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Sunday, May 22, 2005

Scientists at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center in Menlo Park, California are analyzing a 174-page text. The book had originally contained a copy of Archimedes' writings, but had been erased by a monk in the 12th century and reused as a prayer book. The particle accelerator is able to see small iron particles that were present in the original ink.

The book is believed to have been originally copied from Archimedes' 3rd century BC Greek scrolls. About 80 percent of the text has been recovered, showing diagrams that may more closely resemble Archimedes' original work than has ever been seen before. The palimpsest includes "Method of Mechanical Theorems", a treatise that had been thought lost. In it, Archimedes describes his use of mechanics to establish his mathematical theorems. The palimpsest also includes the only original Greek version of "On Floating Bodies", which explains the physics of gravity and flotation.

It is projected that it may take three to four years to complete imaging of the book.