jump to navigation

The Story of the Archimedes Manuscript June 23, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Archaeology Greece, Science, Technology.
comments closed

For 2,000 years, the document written by one of antiquity’s greatest mathematicians was ill treated, torn apart and allowed to decay. Now, US historians have decoded the Archimedes book. But is it really new?

When the Romans advanced to Sicily in the Second Punic War and finally captured the proud city of Syracuse, one of their soldiers met an old man who, surrounded by the din of battle, was calmly drawing geometric figures in the sand. “Do not disturb my circles,” the eccentric old man called out. The legionnaire killed him with his sword.

That, at least, is the legend. The truth is a different story altogether. Placed in charge of King Hieron II’s artillery equipment, Archimedes later played an important military role during the siege of Syracuse. He invented powerful catapults to defend his homeland, using cranes to hurl heavy boulders from the walls of the fortress at enemy ships. Mirrors were also used, it is said, to direct burning rays of sunlight at the Roman armada, setting the ships on fire. The Sicilians resisted the onslaught of the ambitious Roman republic for more than two years.

In short, had the legionnaire really speared the eccentric old man with his sword, he would have done the Romans a great service. In addition to being an oddball scholar, Archimedes was a skilled inventor of weapons.

How Many Grains of Sand > He was so skilled, in fact, that it almost seemed that he could stop Rome’s large army single-handedly. But in the end Archimedes fell victim to brute force after all. One of the greatest inventors of all time, Archimedes was killed at the age of 73. His murder, notes British philosopher Paul Strathern, was “the Romans’ only decisive contribution to mathematics.”

Archimedes prepared the way for integral calculus and approximated the number Pi. He discovered the law of leverage and invented new formulas to calculate the properties of cylinders and spheres. He once yelled “Eureka” while bathing, after having dreamed up the concept of specific weight while splashing around. He even specified the number of grains of sand that could fit into the universe: 1063. Until then the Greeks had merely left it at a “myriad” (or 10,000).

“It took almost 2,000 years before anyone else could hold a candle to him,” Strathern says about this extraordinary man, who lived from 285 to 212 B.C. But brilliance had its drawbacks. Archimedes was often so engrossed in thought that he would forget to eat — and he bathed infrequently. But aside from that, researchers know little about this oddball from the early days of geometry and mechanics. Unfortunately many of his writings were lost, while the rest have been handed down in the form of Arabic and Latin copies. Vandals destroyed his famous planetarium, with its water-powered wheelworks.

But now a Greek original has been discovered after all. In “The Archimedes Codex,” recently published in English, two US researchers describe the decoding of a manuscript from the early days of mathematics. It took the authors years of painstaking work to “extract the secrets from these faded letters.”

Old Manuscript for $2.2 Million > The Beck publishing house, which will first publish the German edition on Sept. 17, is also heavily promoting the book. With a scheduled initial printing of 20,000 copies, Beck is advertising the book as an “important work.” “Our scientific view of the world is turned upside down,” the publisher raves in the press release.

The fuss revolves around a manuscript that caused an uproar once before, in October 1998, when a fragile, handwritten manuscript with mold spots and blackened edges was offered for sale in an auction at Christie’s in New York. After a contentious bidding war, the auctioneer’s hammer fell at a price of $2.2 million.

An anonymous “billionaire from the computer industry” had apparently purchased the rare work. But who was it? Neither the auction house nor the new owner was willing to answer that question. Insiders are now certain that it was Jeffrey Bezos, the founder and CEO of online book retailer Amazon.

The cloak-and-dagger operation makes sense, given the dark suspicions attached to the Archimedes manuscript. Legal papers suggest that the wood-bound math tome was stolen in the Middle East. The Greek Orthodox patriarch of Jerusalem has gone to court twice, both times unsuccessfully, in an effort to gain control over the document. But the conflict continues to simmer.

At least the wealthy US buyer was accommodating enough to lend the manuscript to the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore. As a museum employee recalls, “Mr. B.” carried the booklover’s gem in a “blue bag” up the marble staircase and into the columned foyer of the building, which is built in the style of a Genovese Renaissance palace.

The loan has triggered a flurry of excitement at the Walters, which also features Egyptian funeral papyrus and Napoleon’s diaries in its collection. Greek scholars, physicists and digital photographers are attempting to decode the tattered work. According to curator William Noel, the work is “not much bigger than a box of sugar cubes” and consists of 174 “rigid and warped” pages. “The book,” says Noel, “was on the verge of disintegrating.”

Bombarded with X-Rays > Read the rest of this article and view related photos at > Spiegel

Article by Matthias Schulz. Copyright by Spiegel Online.

Advertisements

Ah, summer! Scoop an ice cream! June 23, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Greek Food Culture.
comments closed

Did you know that it takes the average person just about 50 licks to finish a single scoop ice cream cone?

While no one is quite sure who should get the credit for inventing ice cream, we do know that in the fifth century BC, the ancient Greeks sold snow cones mixed with honey and fruit in the markets of Athens.

Both Julius Caesar and the Emperor Nero of Rome claimed credit for the idea to mix snow with nectar, fruit pulp and honey.

Annual Greek Festival in Peterborough, Canada June 23, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Greek Diaspora Festivals.
comments closed

Annual Greek Festival in Peterborough

Enjoy Greek dance, music, food and crafts. Downtown Peterborough, Canada, from 12 to 9 p.m.

For more information visit www.orthodoxchurchpeterborough.com

Hurry up! > go to the Greek Festival! June 23, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Greek Diaspora Festivals.
comments closed

It’s time to party Greek style!

That means lots of great, authentic Greek foods such as spanakopita, pastitsio, gyros, souvlakia, Greek chicken, baklava, diples, loukoumades and karidopita. A frappe, Greek iced coffee or an ice-cold, imported Greek beer are the proper accompaniments to such fare. Fortunately, this menu is available from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday, June 24, at the Fond du Lac County Fairgrounds as Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church presents its annual Greek Festival.

While enjoying delicious Greek foods, take in a live performance of the Hellenic Dancers from Milwaukee’s Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church. The group performs traditional dances of Cyprus, Crete and the various regions of Greece while dressed in authentic costumes as Greek music fills the air.

Greek cookbooks can be purchased on the grounds, revealing many of the secret family recipes used in the day’s food choices. Raffle tickets can be purchased to win the grand prize of $1,000. Greek Festival is a family-oriented event open to everyone.

Marcos Baghdatis kicks off Wimbledon campaign June 23, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Tennis Squash.
comments closed

Marcos Baghdatis, the Cyprus’ tennis star, kicks off his Wimbledon campaign next week against Ernests Gulbis after the draw was announced yesterday.

Baghdatis beat the Latvian, ranked 84 in the world, on the only previous occasion that they have met in Sydney earlier this year, and he could face Lleyton Hewitt, Tomas Berdych, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, who are all in the bottom half of the draw, should he progress deep into the tournament.

The 22-year-old seems to be in good form on one of his favourite surfaces, only losing in the final of the Halle warm-up event last Sunday to Berdych. Baghdatis played superbly at SW19 last year, beating former champion Hewitt and British hope Andy Murray on his way to the semi-finals, where he lost in straight sets to world number two Nadal.

His performances were even more remarkable considering the fact that he lost in the first round in Halle a couple of weeks before the start of Wimbledon, stating: “Grass is for playing football”. Following his heroics, he changed his tune. “I like grass courts and it fits my game playing really aggressive,” he said. “There is nothing I don’t like about it now.”
His style of play backed-up his words as he treated the fans to a delightful mixture of searing ground strokes and audacious drop shots.

When compiling their seedings, the All-England Club usually breaks with tradition by taking past performances on grass into account rather than sticking with the latest rankings.

Baghdatis seems to be the main beneficiary of the system this year on the men’s side and has been seeded number ten, six places above his ATP ranking.

Paphos new airport ready by end 2008 June 23, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Architecture Infrastructure, Transport Air Sea Land.
comments closed

The new Paphos airport is expected to begin operating in late 2008, Communications and Works Minister Harris Thrassou said yesterday.

Speaking after a visit to the site, he said construction work began in June last year and is expected to be completed around the end of next year, when the airport is set to begin operating, noting that construction work is on course as far as timetables are concerned.
The new passenger terminal will cover 1,888 square metres and will be a modern building of high specifications, providing 760 parking spaces for private cars, 36 for buses and 84 spaces for taxis.

“This project is expected to contribute a great deal to the infrastructure of the country and offer Paphos additional advantages as a tourist destination,” Thrassou said after the visit. He also said passenger services will improve and the new airport will be on an equal par with other European airports.

Larnaca airport, which is also undergoing major changes to improve services and facilities, is due to be completed by the end of 2009.

Hottest Greek summer in decades June 23, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Greece News.
comments closed

The country will brace for more hot weather this weekend with the temperature expected to be around 43 degrees Celsius (109F) in what is shaping up to be the hottest June in decades.

Weather experts said this could be the warmest June in 90 years and that Greece was on track for its hottest summer in a quarter of a century. Reports said the current spell of hot weather will not ease until at least the middle of next week.

Parts of Greece suffered blackouts yesterday. Thessaloniki suffered power cuts for the third day running, while some Athens suburbs suffered outages on Thursday, as did several central provinces. National power demand in Greece hit 9,649 MW on Thursday, short of the all-time record of 9,961 in August 2006. Over a third was consumed in the broader Athens district.

Power officials have been boosting imports and drawing on hydroelectric reservoirs to avert bigger problems, and to avoid a repeat of the massive pre-Olympics blackout that hit Athens in July 2004.

Development Ministry General Secretary Nikos Stephanou said “there is no reason to be concerned… we have prepared all winter to be ready for this.” Ministers have also announced an energy saving plan for government facilities, including reduced lighting and higher air-conditioner settings. Hospitals remained on high alert.

Other parts of southeastern Europe, including Albania, Bulgaria, Romania and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) are also roasting, just weeks after being hit by massive floods.

Not everyone, however, is feeling the heat. Retailers are reporting sharp growth in air-conditioner sales. According to local press reports, air-conditioner sales have more than doubled in comparison with the same period last year.