The Archimedes Codex: How a Medieval Prayer Book is Revealing the True Genius of Antiquity's Greatest Scientist

I bought "The Archimedes Codex" (the cloth cover edition, no less) because of the recommendation of Dick Pagni in the Summer Reading article in July, 2008. The book is available in paper beginning next month (January), but it is the kind of book that you might want to keep permanently in your library. Combining as it does the science of a great historical figure, the mystery of how the book was preserved (not as science but as the prayer book that was written atop the original pages), and the formidable technology required to read the original text and diagrams, "The Archimedes Codex" has just about everything that one could ask for in a book (except sex, which I covered last month). In many ways, it brings to mind "The Book that Nobody Read", which was my Pick for October 2004 and still one of my favorites of all. The only thing that disappointed me was the very poor description of the one thing that most people associate with Archimedes, his "Principle" (that objects displace a volume of water inversely proportional to their density). This scientific story is otherwise very well-told, and it wonderfully illustrates how modern technology can link us with ancient science.

Pick Attribution: 

Reviel Netz and William Noel

Publication Date: 
Friday, December 1, 2006