Greetings and happy new year to all you wonderful Tims out there. I hope we are all well, rested from the revelry and celebration of the season (along with the inevitable hangovers and whatnot.) Having been gone in a holiday-season-induced haze the last few months, I couldn’t help but feel as though I’ve been half asleep through life when I should have been educating myself (and you peoples) on the wonders of knowledge and discovery that have unfolded in this great wide world of ours.
And not for nothing, I couldn’t then help but think of my senior year of high school, most of which was spent with me oversleeping and missing the damn bus to class. Some old habits die hard. But fuck that! The awesome thing about life is that there’s always a chance for the past to be rediscovered and redeemed, because whatever the hell happened back then, you at least have today to move forward!
Yeah, enough of this gooey, sentimental crap… (Stole from demotivators.despair.com.)
In that act of recapitulation, you might be tempted to reach for an old, dusty book sitting on the shelf that you’ve been meaning to read. Or maybe it’s just an old classic that you want to breeze through, hoping you pick out something you might have missed before and then ruminate on the new perspective to the story.
Which of course brings me to the topic at hand for this here Fuck Yeah Science! Because after all, how many times have you picked up that old book only to find an even older manuscript hidden in the whitewashed pages? And if that bizarre, Dan-Brown-esque discovery didn’t blow your mind, how about if that older text was the work of an ancient Greek mathematician? And hold onto your panties, ladies, for what if that text by this mathematician you found hidden in this book was guaranteed to shake the foundations of history, making finding a copy of the Declaration of Independence in that painting from the thrift store seem trivial and stupid by comparison?
Worry not, Bob Langdon. This discovery, while astonishing in its rarity and significance, doesn’t involve Masonic Illuminati lizard-people from the planet Kolob. Or whatever. (Politely borrowed from somewhere on blogspot.com.)
This, my fine-fannied and glamorous gammed friends, is exactly what happened to a French family that found an ancient book of prayers in their attic. Follow along if you will on this story from Science News (https://www.sciencenews.org/article/prayer-archimedes). Some seven centuries ago, an unknown monk transcribed several prayers onto some old, recycled parchment; the original ink having been scraped off the pages for reuse. What was not known until recently however was that the parchment had contained transcribed text authored originally by Archimedes of Syracuse. A renowned Greek mathematician and philosopher, Archimedes is likely better known to casual historians for gallivanting around naked in the streets shouting “Eureka!” after discovering how to use the displacement of water in his bathtub to determine whether the King’s crown was solid gold. Sadly, like so many of those wonderful tales in history, it is likely made up.
Really, he did it for the lolz. And so California could have a stupid motto on their state seal. (Thanks for the image, Queen’s University!)
While a great intellectual, many historians are still torn on the unique physical characteristics of Archimedes’ ass. It should also be noted that Archimedes also came up with the principle of the screw, and I only note it because there’s some kind of awful joke in there somewhere…
Not only could this book be traced to Archimedes, but it turns out the text and diagrams in this book were the only surviving works that could be traced directly to him. Talk about a lucky, God-damned break. But that ain’t all to this tale; not by a long shot. Because after nine years of forensic research in deciphering what trace evidence of the original ink remained, researchers discovered that Archimedes demonstrated an understanding of the fundamentals of calculus! Fucking calculus! Almost two thousand fucking years before Issac Newton ever conceived of what would become modern calculus!
There’s something almost poetic about this discovery itself being derived from another source. (Or this image being derived from cheezburger.com.)
A work hidden in the book called The Method shows that Archimedes had an understanding of determining the area of various curved surfaces. The Method also shows Archimedes had a unique conception of infinity that, while not valid in modern calculus, shows he had a firm understanding of the nature of the problems that calculus can address. Almost like with the burning of the library at Alexandria, I can’t help but wonder where civilization would be today if this work of Archimedes hadn’t been lost to history and had been expanded upon in his time.
It’s okay, Newton. At least your apocryphal story doesn’t have you running down the streets buck-ass fucking naked. (From mathsforeurope.digibel.be.)
Check out this story for more detail in the process and the impact to mathematics and to history. And while your clone copy of that Nora Roberts paperback is not to bear anything remotely similar in significance, a story like this is sure to make us look a little closer at all the shit we have hiding up in our attic.
Cheers and happy new year!
Oh and hey, if that nonsense didn’t inspire you to get up off your ass, clean your house and maybe learn some calculus on that Khan Academy thing, maybe this will! Check out our Banned From iTunes Podcast! (Now actually on iTunes!) Every so often, yours truly will make an appearance, obnoxious and drunk, offering my own dodgy and baseless insights on life! Click the dealie below!
If you like random blowhards you don’t know pontificating on subjects for which they are not even qualified to speak, you’ll LOVE the Banned From iTunes Podcast! Go there and let your ear holes be fornicated with so much awesomeness that I don’t even care that that statement contradicts what I just said in the last sentence! At Banned From iTunes, that’s just how we fucking roll!