X-rays illuminate Archimedes writings

Aug. 3, 2006 at 3:28 PM

STANFORD, Calif., Aug. 3 (UPI) -- Ancient history will be seen on the Internet Friday as U.S. scientists use a synchrotron to investigate some of the work of Greek mathematician Archimedes.

The more than 1,000-year-old writings are being deciphered at Stanford University's Linear Accelerator Center, the San Jose (Calif.) Mercury News reported.

The ancient Greek has been hidden for centuries on parchment that has been neglected, damaged and abused. But a powerful X-ray beam from the center's synchrotron is reacting with the lead used in the manuscript's ink to decipher the text, which now is nearly invisible to the naked eye.

The original manuscript -- long lost -- was copied by a monk onto the goatskin parchment in 975 A.D.

A preliminary interpretation of the text offers new insights into the mind of Archimedes, who lived during the 3rd Century B.C., the Mercury News said. For example, it contains a treatise on combinatorics, a field of problem-solving now used in computer science.

The public can watch the scientists at work Friday at 4 p.m. PDT during a live 45-minute Web cast produced by San Francisco's Exploratorium.

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