In a fascinating twist, scientists are using technologies that follow from thinking first set forth by Greek mathematician Archimedes to reveal the original text and illustrations from the only known copy of his book, “On Floating Bodies”. For the first time in ten centuries, people are seeing words and illustrations from the 2,300-year-old, 174-page work, erased in the twelfth century and replaced with prayers. Archimedes’ insights, detailed in the book, formed the bases of both modern gravitational theory and integral calculus, without which modern technology could not exist.
Scientists from Hopkins and the Rochester Institute of Technology are using digital cameras and processing techniques with ultraviolet and infrared filters developed for medicine and space research. Though the original Greek text, copied from an older manuscript in the tenth century, is gone, the paper it altered fluoresces when bombarded with ultraviolet light.
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